Function and biodiversity
Function and biodiversity
Journal of Ecosystem and Ecography is an international open access journal publishing the quality peer-reviewed research articles relevant to the field of Environmental Sciences. The journal selects the articles to be published with a single bind, peer review system, following the practices of good scholarly journals. It supports the open access policy of making scientific research accessible to one and all.
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Loch Lomond in Scotland forms a relatively isolated ecosystem. The fish community of this lake has remained stable over a long period until a number of introductions in the 1970s restructured its food web.
Spiny forest at Ifaty, Madagascar, featuring various Adansonia (baobab) species, Alluaudia procera (Madagascar ocotillo) and other vegetation.
Biodiversity plays an important role in ecosystem functioning. The reason for this is that ecosystem processes are driven by the number of species in an ecosystem, the exact nature of each individual species, and the relative abundance organisms within these species. Ecosystem processes are broad generalizations that actually take place through the actions of individual organisms. The nature of the organisms—the species, functional groups and trophic levels to which they belong—dictates the sorts of actions these individuals are capable of carrying out and the relative efficiency with which they do so.
Ecological theory suggests that in order to coexist, species must have some level of limiting similarity—they must be different from one another in some fundamental way, otherwise one species would competitively exclude the other. Despite this, the cumulative effect of additional species in an ecosystem is not linear—additional species may enhance nitrogen retention, for example, but beyond some level of species richness, additional species may have little additive effect.
The addition (or loss) of species that are ecologically similar to those already present in an ecosystem tends to only have a small effect on ecosystem function. Ecologically distinct species, on the other hand, have a much larger effect. Similarly, dominant species have a large effect on ecosystem function, while rare species tend to have a small effect. Keystone species tend to have an effect on ecosystem function that is disproportionate to their abundance in an ecosystem. Similarly, an ecosystem engineer is any organism that creates, significantly modifies, maintains or destroys a habitat.
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Journal of Ecosystem and Ecography