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Table_1_Disrupting the Biodiversity–Ecosystem Function Relationship: Response of Shredders and Leaf Breakdown to Urbanization in Andean Streams.DOCX
Urbanization is a major driver of stream ecosystem impairment and is typically associated with multiple stressors and species loss. A challenge is to understand how those stressors alter the relationship between biodiversity and ecosystem functioning (B-EF). Amongst the Andean streams of southern Ecuador, we assessed the response of shredder diversity and organic matter breakdown (OMB) to urbanization and identified the urban-associated stressors disrupting the B-EF relationship. A leaf-litter bag experiment during stable flow conditions in 2016 was carried out to quantify total OMB and shredder-mediated OMB, which was estimated to represent the B-EF relationship. We calculated the taxonomic and functional diversity of shredder invertebrates associated with leaf packs. Also, a suite of physicochemical and habitat stressors was measured weekly during the field experiment. Along with the urbanization gradient, both taxonomic and functional diversity of shredders declined while OMB rates decreased. Shredders were absent and their contribution to OMB was null at the most urbanized sites. The B-EF relationship was interrupted through nutrient enrichment, physical habitat homogenization, riparian vegetation disturbance, and leaf-litter availability as a consequence of urbanization. Our results demonstrate how species loss spreads to and affects ecosystem functions in urbanized streams and how environmental stressors alter the B-EF relationship. Better land-use practices are crucial in Andean catchments to guarantee ecosystem services which are the result of successful B-EF relationships.