Response Diversity: Concept is being used

The 2003 paper Response diversity, ecosystem change, and resilience in Frontiers in Ecology by Thomas Elmqvist, Carl Folke, Magnus Nyström, Garry Peterson, Jan Bengtsson, Brian Walker and Jon Norberg has been identified by ISI as a Fast breaking paper for August 2005.

The paper introduces the concept of response diversity – the diversity of responses to environmental change among species contributing to the same ecosystem function. Response diversity is particularly important for ecosystem renewal and reorganization following change.

Thomas Elmqvist answers some questions from ISI about the paper on ISI’s site.

Q: Could you summarize the significance of your paper in layman’s terms?
A: Humanity is altering the capacity of ecosystems to buffer disturbance, and we can no longer take for granted a sustained flow of ecosystem services essential to our well-being. Resilience, e.g., the capacity to buffer disturbances, is necessary to sustain desirable ecosystem states in variable environments. Biological diversity appears to enhance the resilience of desirable ecosystem states. This might be particularly true for response diversity, i.e., the diversity of responses to environmental change among species contributing to the same ecosystem function. Response diversity is particularly important for ecosystem renewal and reorganization following change. We should pay special attention to response diversity when planning ecosystem management and restoration, since it may contribute considerably to the resilience of desired ecosystem states against disturbance, mismanagement, and degradation.

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