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Journal of Arid Land
Contribution of biodiversity to ecosystem functioning: a non-equilibrium thermodynamic perspective
1 Ecological Complexity and Modeling Laboratory, Department of Botany and Plant Sciences, University of California, Riverside CA 92521-0124, USA; 2 XIEG-UCR International Center for Arid Land Ecology, University of California, Riverside CA 92521, USA
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Abstract  Ecosystem stays far from thermodynamic equilibrium. Through the interactions among biotic and abiotic components, and encompassing physical environments, ecosystem forms a dissipative structure that allows it to dissipate energy continuously and thereby remains functional over time. Biotic regulation of energy and material fluxes in and out of the ecosystem allows it to maintain a homeostatic state which corresponds to a self-organized state emerged in a non-equilibrium thermodynamic system. While the associated self-organizational processes approach to homeostatic state, entropy (a measure of irreversibility) degrades and dissipation of energy increases. We propose here that at a homeostatic state of ecosystem, biodiversity which includes both phenotypic and functional diversity, attains optimal values. As long as biodiversity remains within its optimal range, the corresponding homeostatic state is maintained. However, while embedded environmental conditions fluctuate along the gradient of accelerating changes, phenotypic diversity and functional diversity contribute inversely to the associated self-organizing processes. Furthermore, an increase or decrease in biodiversity outside of its optimal range makes the ecosystem vulnerable to transition into a different state.

Key wordsconservation      Important Plant Area      endemics      Altai Mountain System     
Received: 18 October 2010      Published: 07 March 2011
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Cite this article:

Amit CHAKRABORTY, B Larry LI. Contribution of biodiversity to ecosystem functioning: a non-equilibrium thermodynamic perspective. Journal of Arid Land, 2011, 3(1): 71-74.

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