Changes in the abundance of species - especially those that influence water and nutrient dynamics, trophic interactions, or disturbance regime - affect the structure and functioning of ecosystems. Diversity is also functionally important, both because it increases the probability of including species that have strong ecosystem effects and because it can increase the efficiency of resource use. Differences in environmental sensitivity among functionally similar species give stability to ecosystem processes, whereas differences in sensitivity among functionally different species make ecosystems more vulnerable to change. Current global environmental changes that affect species composition and diversity are therefore profoundly altering the functioning of the biosphere.
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