General stabilizing effects of plant diversity on grassland productivity through population asynchrony and overyielding

Authors

  • A. Hector,

    Corresponding author
    1. Institute of Evolutionary Biology and Environmental Studies, University of Zurich, Winterthurerstrasse 190, CH-8057 Zurich, Switzerland
    Search for more papers by this author
  • Y. Hautier,

    1. Institute of Evolutionary Biology and Environmental Studies, University of Zurich, Winterthurerstrasse 190, CH-8057 Zurich, Switzerland
    Search for more papers by this author
  • P. Saner,

    1. Institute of Evolutionary Biology and Environmental Studies, University of Zurich, Winterthurerstrasse 190, CH-8057 Zurich, Switzerland
    Search for more papers by this author
  • L. Wacker,

    1. Institute of Evolutionary Biology and Environmental Studies, University of Zurich, Winterthurerstrasse 190, CH-8057 Zurich, Switzerland
    Search for more papers by this author
  • R. Bagchi,

    1. Department of Zoology, University of Oxford, Tinbergen Building, South Parks Road, Oxford OX1 3PS United Kingdom
    Search for more papers by this author
  • J. Joshi,

    1. Institute of Evolutionary Biology and Environmental Studies, University of Zurich, Winterthurerstrasse 190, CH-8057 Zurich, Switzerland
    2. Biodiversity Research/Systematic Botany, Institute of Biochemistry and Biology, University of Potsdam, Maulbeerallee 1, D-14469 Potsdam, Germany
    Search for more papers by this author
  • M. Scherer-Lorenzen,

    1. University of Freiburg, Faculty of Biology, Geobotany, Schaenzlestrasse 1, D-79104 Freiburg, Germany
    Search for more papers by this author
  • E. M. Spehn,

    1. Institute of Botany, University of Basel, Schoenbeinstrasse 6, CH-4056 Basel, Switzerland
    Search for more papers by this author
  • E. Bazeley-White,

    1. Natural Environmental Research Council (NERC), Centre for Population Biology, Imperial College London, Silwood Park Campus, Ascot, Berkshire GB-SL5 7PY United Kingdom
    Search for more papers by this author
  • M. Weilenmann,

    1. Institute of Evolutionary Biology and Environmental Studies, University of Zurich, Winterthurerstrasse 190, CH-8057 Zurich, Switzerland
    Search for more papers by this author
  • M. C. Caldeira,

    1. Centro de Estudos Florestais, Instituto Superior de Agronomia, Universidade Técnica de Lisboa, Tapada da Ajuda, 1349-017 Lisboa, Portugal
    Search for more papers by this author
  • P. G. Dimitrakopoulos,

    1. Biodiversity Conservation Laboratory, Department of Environment, University of the Aegean, GR-811 00 Mytilene, Greece
    Search for more papers by this author
  • J. A. Finn,

    1. Teagasc, Environment Research Centre, Johnstown Castle, Wexford, Ireland
    Search for more papers by this author
  • K. Huss-Danell,

    1. Department of Agricultural Research for Northern Sweden, Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences (SLU), SE-90183 Umeå, Sweden
    Search for more papers by this author
  • A. Jumpponen,

    1. Department of Agricultural Research for Northern Sweden, Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences (SLU), SE-90183 Umeå, Sweden
    2. Department of Forest Ecology and Management, Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences (SLU), SE-90183 Umeå, Sweden
    Search for more papers by this author
    •  Present address: Division of Biology, 433 Ackert Hall, Kansas State University, Manhattan, Kansas 66506, USA.

  • C. P. H. Mulder,

    1. Department of Agricultural Research for Northern Sweden, Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences (SLU), SE-90183 Umeå, Sweden
    2. Department of Forest Ecology and Management, Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences (SLU), SE-90183 Umeå, Sweden
    Search for more papers by this author
    •  Present address: Institute of Arctic Biology and Department of Biology and Wildlife, University of Alaska Fairbanks, Fairbanks, Alaska 99775 USA.

  • C. Palmborg,

    1. Department of Agricultural Research for Northern Sweden, Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences (SLU), SE-90183 Umeå, Sweden
    Search for more papers by this author
  • J. S. Pereira,

    1. Centro de Estudos Florestais, Instituto Superior de Agronomia, Universidade Técnica de Lisboa, Tapada da Ajuda, 1349-017 Lisboa, Portugal
    Search for more papers by this author
  • A. S. D. Siamantziouras,

    1. Biodiversity Conservation Laboratory, Department of Environment, University of the Aegean, GR-811 00 Mytilene, Greece
    Search for more papers by this author
  • A. C. Terry,

    1. Department of Animal and Plant Sciences, University of Sheffield, South Yorkshire GB-S10 2TN United Kingdom
    Search for more papers by this author
    •  Present address: Institute of Arctic Biology and Department of Biology and Wildlife, University of Alaska Fairbanks, Fairbanks, Alaska 99775 USA.

  • A. Y. Troumbis,

    1. Biodiversity Conservation Laboratory, Department of Environment, University of the Aegean, GR-811 00 Mytilene, Greece
    Search for more papers by this author
  • B. Schmid,

    1. Institute of Evolutionary Biology and Environmental Studies, University of Zurich, Winterthurerstrasse 190, CH-8057 Zurich, Switzerland
    Search for more papers by this author
  • M. Loreau

    1. Department of Biology, McGill University, 1205 ave Docteur Penfield, Montreal, Québec H3A 1B1 Canada
    Search for more papers by this author

  • Corresponding Editor: B. J. Cardinale.

  •  Present address: Environment Department, University of York, Heslington, York YO10 5DD United Kingdom

Abstract

Insurance effects of biodiversity can stabilize the functioning of multispecies ecosystems against environmental variability when differential species' responses lead to asynchronous population dynamics. When responses are not perfectly positively correlated, declines in some populations are compensated by increases in others, smoothing variability in ecosystem productivity. This variance reduction effect of biodiversity is analogous to the risk-spreading benefits of diverse investment portfolios in financial markets.

We use data from the BIODEPTH network of grassland biodiversity experiments to perform a general test for stabilizing effects of plant diversity on the temporal variability of individual species, functional groups, and aggregate communities. We tested three potential mechanisms: reduction of temporal variability through population asynchrony; enhancement of long-term average performance through positive selection effects; and increases in the temporal mean due to overyielding.

Our results support a stabilizing effect of diversity on the temporal variability of grassland aboveground annual net primary production through two mechanisms. Two-species communities with greater population asynchrony were more stable in their average production over time due to compensatory fluctuations. Overyielding also stabilized productivity by increasing levels of average biomass production relative to temporal variability. However, there was no evidence for a performance-enhancing effect on the temporal mean through positive selection effects. In combination with previous work, our results suggest that stabilizing effects of diversity on community productivity through population asynchrony and overyielding appear to be general in grassland ecosystems.

Ancillary