Annual variation of community biomass is lower in more diverse stream fish communities


N. R. Franssen, Dept of Zoology, Univ. of Oklahoma, and Sam Noble Oklahoma Museum of Natural History, 730 Van Vleet Oval, Norman, OK 73019, USA. E-mail:


Anthropogenic influences have disproportionally affected freshwater ecosystems, and a loss of biodiversity is forecasted to greatly reduce ecosystem function and services. Loss of species may destabilize communities by limiting the stabilizing forces of compensatory dynamics and/or statistical averaging, both of which are effects that can buffer variation in aggregate community properties. Currently, support for positive diversity-stability relationships stems from experiments with simple communities at small spatial and temporal scales, and application to natural communities is limited. Using a long-term dataset of 35 stream fish communities matched with hydrologic data, we show that community stability (annual variation of standing biomass of fishes) was less variable in more species-rich communities and was not associated with stream hydrology. Only the statistical averaging model of community stability was consistent with observed patterns of lower biomass variation in more species-rich communities. Our findings suggest anthropogenically induced extirpation of vertebrate consumers may lower community biomass stability in complex ecosystems.