Confusion over the term ecological redundancy (Walker 1992) requires that the concept be clarified in order to advance the developing theory that maintaining ecosystem function conserves biological diversity. The species approach to conserving biological diversity assumes that the species in trouble are already identified. The ecosystem approach attempts to deal with the problem of conserving all the species in an ecosystem, including those not yet known. This is best achieved by ensuring that the ecosystem continues to function approximately as it has by maintaining its essential structure. Ecosystem stability (the probability of all species persisting) is enhanced if each important functional group of organisms (important for maintaining function and structure) comprises several ecologically equivalent species, each with different responses to environmental factors. In this sense ecological redundancy is good because it enhances ecosystem resilience, but functionally important groups (guilds, functional types) that have only one or very few species deserve priority conservation attention because their functions could be quickly lost with species extinctions.
Conservation Biology – Wiley
Published: Aug 1, 1995
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