Plant diversity controls arthropod biomass and temporal stability

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Abstract

Understanding the linkages among species diversity, biomass production and stability underlies effective predictions for conservation, agriculture and fisheries. Although these relationships have been well studied for plants and, to a lesser extent, consumers, relationships among plant and consumer diversity, productivity, and temporal stability remain relatively unexplored. We used structural equation models to examine these relationships in a long-term experiment manipulating plant diversity and enumerating the arthropod community response. We found remarkably similar strength and direction of interrelationships among diversity, productivity and temporal stability of consumers and plants. Further, our results suggest that the frequently observed relationships between plant and consumer diversity occur primarily via changes in plant production leading to changed consumer production rather than via plant diversity directly controlling consumer diversity. Our results demonstrate that extinction or invasion of plant species can resonate via biomass and energy flux to control diversity, production and stability of both plant and consumer communities.

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