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Ecosystem structure and function are commonly used to assess the effects of stressors at the ecosystem scale. It is understood that these endpoints have different sensitivity to stress, and the assumption is that structural measures (e.g., community composition) respond at lower stress levels than functional measures (e.g., rates of primary production). These assumptions have influenced hypotheses in stress ecology as well as monitoring and management approaches, but the extent to which structure–function sensitivity has been empirically tested is not clear. The objective of our critical review is to assess the scientific evidence on responses of ecosystem function and structure to chemical stressors. Specifically, we aim to examine 1) how frequently are functional and structural responses to stress empirically measured at the ecosystem-scale, 2) what are common metrics of ecosystem function and structure, and 3) if the sensitivity of these endpoints is related. We identified 572 publications that included mentions of ecosystem structure and function in response to stressors such as chemical pollution and landuse change. We expect to compare responses among endpoints, verify the structure–function relationship in response to stress, and identify knowledge gaps that warrant further investigation.

Raissa Mendonca (Primary Presenter/Author), Kent State University,;

Mirco Bundschuh ( Co-Presenter/Co-Author), Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences,;

Jochen Zubrod ( Co-Presenter/Co-Author), University of Koblenz-Landau,;

Anna Harrison ( Co-Presenter/Co-Author), University of Michigan,;

David Costello ( Co-Presenter/Co-Author), Kent State University,;