Document Type

Article

Publication Version

Published Version

Publication Date

5-2013

Journal or Book Title

Ecology Letters

Volume

16

Issue

5

First Page

617

Last Page

625

DOI

10.1111/ele.12088

Abstract

As biodiversity is declining at an unprecedented rate, an important current scientific challenge is to understand and predict the consequences of biodiversity loss. Here, we develop a theory that predicts the temporal variability of community biomass from the properties of individual component species in monoculture. Our theory shows that biodiversity stabilises ecosystems through three main mechanisms: (1) asynchrony in species’ responses to environmental fluctuations, (2) reduced demographic stochasticity due to overyielding in species mixtures and (3) reduced observation error (including spatial and sampling variability). Parameterised with empirical data from four long-term grassland biodiversity experiments, our prediction explained 22–75% of the observed variability, and captured much of the effect of species richness. Richness stabilised communities mainly by increasing community biomass and reducing the strength of demographic stochasticity. Our approach calls for a re-evaluation of the mechanisms explaining the effects of biodiversity on ecosystem stability.

Comments

This article is from Ecology Letters 16 (2013): 617, doi:10.1111/ele.12088.

Rights

Works produced by employees of the U.S. Government as part of their official duties are not copyrighted within the U.S. The content of this document is not copyrighted.

Language

en

File Format

application/pdf

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