They found that soil biodiversity is positively correlated with multiple dimensions of ecosystem functions in urban greenspaces. In other words, urban greenspaces with greater soil biodiversity support higher levels of key groups of functions. Thus, conserving soil biodiversity is the key to sustaining the multiple ecosystem functions provided by urban greenspaces. Specifically, the biodiversity of soil invertebrates is especially vital for supporting a high number of functions working at high levels of functioning in urban greenspaces.
Besides, the researchers found that he biodiversity of soil common taxa can be particularly important for ecosystem multifunctionality in urban greenspaces compared with that of rare taxa. “This result is commonly found when ecosystem functioning is determined by plant communities, just like Grime’s mass-ratio hypothesis. Soil common taxa that account for most biomass with high frequency of occurrence in urban greenspaces could competitively and efficiently utilize an array of resources, and occupy the highly dynamic and diverse environment,” said Prof. CHU Haiyan, an author of the study.
Unexpectedly, the researchers found that plant diversity has a limited capacity to influence ecosystem functions in urban greenspaces. “Plants in urban greenspaces are often non-indigenous species, have come from elsewhere, often a different continent, and have been selected for their horticultural value rather than their capacity to improve surface soils,” said Dr. Manuel Delgado-Baquerizo, an author of the study. “These introduced plants will be unlikely to have co-evolved with the soils and their microbial communities, or the climatic and environmental conditions at a site, reducing their positive influence on ecosystem functions.”
Despite these limitations, Dr Manuel Delgado-Baquerizo highlighted that plant diversity is likely to be indispensable for other non-measured ecosystem services such as air purification, cooling, relaxation, and beautification, other than the basic ecosystem functions in natural ecosystems, and therefore, a fundamental component of urban greenspaces.
Conserving biodiversity including both soil biodiversity and plant diversity in urban greenspaces is the key to supporting the sustainability of urban ecosystems and human well-being.
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