by the River Ecology Group of the Department of Plant Biology and Ecology, at the Faculty of Science and Technology of the UPV / EHU, shows for the first time how the loss of riverbank plant species affects ‘multifunctionality’ of the river ecosystem. This term, of recent appearance in the ecological literature, refers to the capacity of an ecosystem to maintain multiple processes simultaneously, which is essential to determine its state of health. “The riverside forests undergo important modifications that in many cases lead to the deterioration and loss of biodiversity, going from being diverse and complex communities to being made up of one or a few species”, alerts Luz Boyero, coordinator of the group of Research carried out by this study. The riverside

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plants provide the basic energy resource of Macau Email Lists many rivers: the litter, on which a type of aquatic invertebrates feed: the detritivores. These in turn form the basis of the river food web, serving as food for fish and other emblematic river organisms such as dragonflies. In addition, the litter is decomposed by microorganisms so that its nutrients are recycled and made available to the plants again. The study, financed by the Ministry of Economy and Competitiveness and with ERDF funds (Biofunction Project), consisted of creating microcosms that emulated the fluvial environment, in which a gradual loss of diversity of riverside plants was simulated and the rates of multiple fluvial processes, including the decomposition of litter, its conversion to fine organic

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matter, the recycling of essential nutrients (nitrogen and phosphorus) and the production of animal biomass. “The loss of diversity meant a significant decrease in the multifunctionality of the ecosystem, but only in the presence of detritivores, evidencing the fundamental ecological role of these organisms as intermediaries between plant resources from the terrestrial ecosystem and river processes,” explains Boyero. The study also demonstrated the importance of examining the effects of the loss of riparian plant diversity for each process separately, and taking into account the different compartments of the ecosystem (litter, water and organisms), in order to identify the underlying biological mechanisms. For example, it was seen that

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