Biodiversity is assumed to be critical for ecosystem functions, but the ability for existing biodiversity measures to accurately predict ecosystem functions remains uncertain. To improve the accuracy of ecosystem function predictions, we propose a new vector of biodiversity metrics, structural diversity, that have the potential to better predict ecosystem functions at large spatial scales. Using lidar-derived canopy structural diversity metrics on 19 forested sites from the National Ecological Observation Network across the USA, we show that a set of proposed structural diversity metrics are better at predicting 50% of key ecosystem functions than current biodiversity measures of species richness and phylogenetic diversity.
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