Ecology Letters (2010) 13: 1390–1399
Ecosystem structure, functioning and stability have been a focus of ecological and environmental sciences during the past two decades. The mechanisms underlying their relationship, however, are not well understood. Based on comprehensive studies in Inner Mongolia grassland, here we show that species-level stoichiometric homoeostasis was consistently positively correlated with dominance and stability on both 2-year and 27-year temporal scales and across a 1200-km spatial transect. At the community level, stoichiometric homoeostasis was also positively correlated with ecosystem function and stability in most cases. Thus, homoeostatic species tend to have high and stable biomass; and ecosystems dominated by more homoeostatic species have higher productivity and greater stability. By modulating organism responses to key environmental drivers, stoichiometric homoeostasis appears to be a major mechanism responsible for the structure, functioning and stability of grassland ecosystems.