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Review article - Peer-reviewed, 2017

The Overlooked Role of Facilitation in Biodiversity Experiments

Wright, Alexandra J.; Wardle, David A.; Callaway, Ragan; Gaxiola, Aurora


Past research has demonstrated that decreased biodiversity often reduces ecosystem productivity, but variation in the shape of biodiversity-ecosystem function (BEF) relationships begets the need for a deeper mechanistic understanding of what drives these patterns. While mechanisms involving competition are often invoked, the role of facilitation is overlooked, or lumped within several less explicitly defined processes (e.g., complementarity effects). Here, we explore recent advances in understanding how facilitation affects BEF relationships and identify three categories of facilitative mechanisms that can drive variation in those relationships. Species interactions underlying BEF relationships are complex, but the framework we present provides a step toward understanding this complexity and predicting how facilitation contributes to the ecosystem role of biodiversity in a rapidly changing environment.

Published in

Trends in ecology & evolution
2017, Volume: 32, number: 5, pages: 383-390

    Sustainable Development Goals

    SDG15 Life on land

    UKÄ Subject classification

    Forest Science

    Publication Identifiers


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