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Contrasting effects of diversity on the temporal stability of plant populations

Authors

  • Jasper van Ruijven,

  • Frank Berendse


J. van Ruijven (jasper.vanruijven@wur.nl) and F. Berendse, Nature Conservation and Plant Ecology group, Wageningen Univ. and Research centre, Droevendaalsesteeg 3a, NL-6708 PB Wageningen, the Netherlands.

Abstract

Recent theoretical and empirical work suggests that diversity enhances the temporal stability of a community. However, the effect of diversity on the stability of the individual populations within the community remains unclear. Some models predict a decrease of population stability with diversity, whereas others suggest that diversity has a stabilizing effect on populations. Empirical evidence for either relationship between population stability and diversity is weak. The few studies that directly assessed the stability of populations reported contradicting results. We used a six-year data-set from a plant diversity experiment to examine the relationships between diversity and temporal stability of plant biomass. Our results show that stability increased with diversity at the community-level, while the stability of populations, averaged over all species, decreased with diversity. However, when examining species separately we found positive, negative and neutral relationships between population stability and diversity. Our findings suggest that diversity may contribute to the stability of ecosystem services at the community level, but the effect of diversity on the stability of the individual populations within the community are generally negative. However, different species within the community may show strikingly different relationships between diversity and stability.

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