Consequences of biodiversity shift across phylogenetic scales for aspen and willow growth, survival, and herbivory

Jake J. Grossman, Jeannine M Cavender-Bares

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Scopus citations


Question: It has been established that community biodiversity has consequences for ecosystem function. Yet research assessing these biodiversity–ecosystem function (BEF) relationships usually occurs at only one phylogenetic scale; as such, the dependence of BEF relationships on phylogenetic scale has not been characterized. We present a novel framework for considering the consequences of biodiversity across phylogenetic scales, allowing us to ask: Do the consequences of intraspecific and interspecific diversity affect the growth, survival, and leaf herbivory of three temperate tree species?. Study site: Salicaceous tree plantation, Minnesota, northern USA. Methods: We established an experimental plantation consisting of trees of three species within the willow (Salicaceae) family. Two aspen (Populus tremuloides, P. alba) and one willow (Salix nigra) species were represented by three unique genotypes such that tree neighborhoods varied both in genotype richness (intraspecific diversity) and species richness (interspecific diversity). We assessed the consequences of tree identity and diversity across these two phylogenetic scales for all trees’ aboveground productivity and survival, and for herbivore damage (on P. tremuloides) at the end of the second full growing season of the experiment. Results: Diversity at any phylogenetic scale had no effect on the growth and survival of P. alba or S. nigra. However, intraspecific diversity increased the likelihood of P. tremuloides survival while interspecific diversity reduced P. tremuloides survival. Intraspecific diversity also reduced leaf removal and galling herbivory on P. tremuloides, while interspecific diversity had no effect on leaf removal and increased galling herbivory. Neither scale of diversity affected leaf mining. Conclusions: Tree diversity within and among populations and species affected plant performance and ecosystem properties differentially, demonstrating that BEF relationships shift across phylogenetic scales in a taxon-specific manner. We call for further experiments that explicitly span these scales by measuring ecosystem and physiological responses to the manipulation of diversity within and among species.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)301-311
Number of pages11
JournalJournal of Vegetation Science
Issue number2
StatePublished - Mar 2019

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
National Science Foundation, Grant/Award Number: DEB-1234162

Funding Information:
This work was supported by grants from the US National Science Foundation Long-Term Ecological Research Program (DEB-0620652 and DEB-1234162) and the US National Park Service (grant #191779). Further support was provided by the Cedar Creek Ecosystem Science Reserve, the Arnold Arboretum of Harvard University, and the University of Minnesota, including fellowships from the Crosby, Rothman, Wilkie, Anderson, and Dayton Funds and by the department of Ecology, Evolution, and Behavior. The authors thank Laura Messman, Pamela Warnke, Roger Meissner, Allen J. Butterfield, ZhaaZhaawaanong Greensky, Laura Williams, Xiaojing Wei, Jen Teshera-Levye, Beth Fallon, Nick Deacon, Troy Mielke, Jon Anderson, and Mark Saxhaug for assistance with tree propagation and experimental establishment. Forest Isbell and Ruth Shaw provided thoughtful feedback on analysis and presentation of this work.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2019 International Association for Vegetation Science


  • Populus alba
  • Populus tremuloides
  • Salix nigra
  • biodiversity–ecosystem function
  • clonality
  • galls
  • genetic diversity
  • leaf miners


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