Biomass-dependent susceptibility to drought in experimental grassland communities




Earlier studies indicated that plant diversity influences community resistance in biomass when ecosystems are exposed to perturbations. This relationship remains controversial, however. Here we constructed grassland communities to test the relationships between species diversity and productivity under control and experimental drought conditions. Species richness was not correlated with biomass either under constant conditions or under drought conditions. However, communities with lower biomass production were more resistant to drought stress than those that were more productive. Our results also showed that ecosystem resistance to drought is a decreasing but nonlinear function of biomass. In contrast, species diversity had little and an equivocal effect on ecosystem resistance. From the results reported here, and the results of several previous studies, we suggest that high biomass systems exhibited a greater biomass reduction in response to drought than low biomass systems did, regardless of the relationship between plant diversity and community biomass production.