Analyses of temporal patterns of diversity across a wide range of taxa have found that more diverse communities often show smaller compositional changes over time. This generality indicates that high diversity is associated with greater temporal stability in species composition. We examined patterns of diversity and community stability in zooplankton time series data from 36 lakes sampled over a combined 483 years. The species–time relationship was flatter in more species-rich lakes in the temperate zone. However, high-latitude lakes had both low richness and low turnover. These patterns were consistent for turnover both within and among years. Daily, annual and long-term richness were all higher in large lakes while turnover was unaffected by the surface area. Richness on all time scales, as well as turnover within and among years, all declined at high latitude. Species–area relations and latitudinal gradients in richness therefore reflect different temporal components of diversity. Our results suggest that diversity shows strong associations with compositional stability that vary qualitatively across biogeographical provinces. Community stability increases with diversity among lakes in the temperate zone; however, the two are negatively correlated across latitudinal gradients. These patterns indicate that either the direct effects of diversity on stability or their covariance with environmental fluctuations vary with latitude.