• Disturbance;
  • diversity;
  • forest communities;
  • long-term community dynamics;
  • population stability;
  • succession

Ecology Letters (2010)


It is suggested that diversity destabilizes individual populations within communities; however, generalizations are problematic because effects of diversity can be confounded by variation attributable to community type, life history or successional stage. We examined these complexities using a 40-year record of reassembly in forest herb communities in two clearcut watersheds in the Andrews Long-term Ecological Research Site (Oregon, USA). Population stability was higher among forest than colonizing species and increased with successional stage. Thus, life history and successional stage may explain some of the variability in diversity–stability relationships found previously. However, population stability was positively related to diversity and this relationship held for different forest communities, for species with contrasting life histories, and for different successional stages. Positive relationships between diversity and population stability can arise if diversity has facilitative effects, or if stability is a precursor, rather than a response, to diversity.