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BIOCHANGED: Impact of biodiversity evenness changes in the ecosystem functioning of estuaries
Coordinator - Marina Dolbeth (IMAR)
CESAM Responsible researcher - Ana Isabel Lillebø
Programme - PTDC (PTDC/MAR/111901/2009)
Execution dates - 2011-03-01 - 2014-08-31 (42 Months)
Funding Entity - FCT - Fundação para a Ciência e Tecnologia
Funding for CESAM - 5640 €
Total Funding - 114385 €
Proponent Institution - IMAR - Instituto do Mar
Participating Institutions
Universidade de Aveiro
Centro Interdisciplinar de Investigação Marinha e Ambiental (CIIMAR/CIMAR)

Estuaries are among the world’s most productive ecosystems, being subjected to intense human pressures. These anthropogenic activities are expected to induce biodiversity changes, which can impair the ecosystem functioning efficiency. The debate on biodiversity and ecosystem functioning (BEF) has become intensified among scientists, driven by the potential consequences of species loss for the goods and services ecosystems provide to humanity. Most of the studies done so far on BEF have dealt with the effect of species richness as a measure of biodiversity, or the role of individual species in the ecosystem functioning. Yet, several of the present disturbance sources in transitional waters are inducing changes in species evenness patterns, whose effects on the estuarine processes have not been fully understood and may be much more sensitive to global change than species richness. Also, species functionally redundant for an ecosystem process at a given time and environment may no longer be with respect to future environmental fluctuations. The present proposal aims to explore changing BEF in estuaries. The main innovation with regard to the existing studies is the testing of evenness changes, as a measure of biodiversity (only 2.5% of BEF studies have tested evenness changes) and the testing of ecological changes that have yet to be addressed: climate and invasive species introduction.

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