Chin J Plant Ecol ›› 2021, Vol. 45 ›› Issue (10): 1112-1126.DOI: 10.17521/cjpe.2020.0074

Special Issue: 生态系统结构与功能

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Responses of ecosystem multifunctionality to global change: progress, problem and prospect

ZHANG Hong-Jin, WANG Wei*()   

  1. Institute of Ecology, College of Urban and Environmental Sciences and Key Laboratory for Earth Surface Processes of the Ministry of Education, Peking University, Beijing 100871, China
  • Received:2020-03-18 Accepted:2020-10-22 Online:2021-10-20 Published:2020-12-09
  • Contact: WANG Wei
  • Supported by:
    National Key R&D Program of China(2016YFC0500701);National Natural Science Foundation of China(31972939)


Global change has exerted profound impacts on ecosystem function, such as variations in plant productivity and imbalances in nutrient cycling. Previous studies mostly focused on the impacts of global change on individual functions. However, ecosystems have multiple functions, known as ecosystem multifunctionality (EMF), such that the evaluation based on a single functionality is inappropriate to reflect the overall performance of ecosystems due to the occurrence of trade-offs or synergies among the differential functions. This imposes limitation to our understanding of the effects of global change on ecosystems. Since the initial quantitative study of EMF by Hector and Bagchi in 2007, this field of research has undergone rapid development and the environmental impacts on EMF have received wide attention with intensification of global change. In order to gain systematic understanding of the progress in EMF studies, we conducted a bibliometric analysis for the period 2007-2020 based on CNKI and ISI Web of Science databases. This paper provides a brief description of the development in EMF research and summary of studies concerning the impacts of land use change, warming, changes in precipitation, and nitrogen deposition on EMF. We raised six issues of further attention in future studies of EMF in the context of global change, including (1) requirement of consensus in EMF indices and evaluation method; (2) consideration on the interactive effects among different factors on EMF; (3) elucidation of EMF responses to global change across various temporal scales; (4) understanding of the relationships between multi-dimensional, multi-scale biodiversity and EMF; (5) understanding of the relationships between multiple trophic diversity and EMF; and (6) understanding of the relationships between root functional traits and EMF.

Key words: global change, ecosystem multifunctionality, land use change, warming, changes in precipitation, nitrogen deposition