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Data from: Biodiversity as a multidimensional construct: a review, framework and case study of herbivory's impact on plant biodiversity

Citation

Naeem, S. et al. (2016), Data from: Biodiversity as a multidimensional construct: a review, framework and case study of herbivory's impact on plant biodiversity, Dryad, Dataset, https://doi.org/10.5061/dryad.11527

Abstract

Biodiversity is inherently multidimensional, encompassing taxonomic, functional, phylogenetic, genetic, landscape and many other elements of variability of life on the Earth. However, this fundamental principle of multidimensionality is rarely applied in research aimed at understanding biodiversity's value to ecosystem functions and the services they provide. This oversight means that our current understanding of the ecological and environmental consequences of biodiversity loss is limited primarily to what unidimensional studies have revealed. To address this issue, we review the literature, develop a conceptual framework for multidimensional biodiversity research based on this review and provide a case study to explore the framework. Our case study specifically examines how herbivory by whitetail deer (Odocoileus virginianus) alters the multidimensional influence of biodiversity on understory plant cover at Black Rock Forest, New York. Using three biodiversity dimensions (taxonomic, functional and phylogenetic diversity) to explore our framework, we found that herbivory alters biodiversity's multidimensional influence on plant cover; an effect not observable through a unidimensional approach. Although our review, framework and case study illustrate the advantages of multidimensional over unidimensional approaches, they also illustrate the statistical and empirical challenges such work entails. Meeting these challenges, however, where data and resources permit, will be important if we are to better understand and manage the consequences we face as biodiversity continues to decline in the foreseeable future.

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