Lost in trait space: species-poor communities are inflexible in properties that drive ecosystem functioning

Anja Vogel, Peter Manning, Marc W. Cadotte, Jane Cowles, Forest Isbell, Alexandre L.C. Jousset, Kaitlin Kimmel, Sebastian T. Meyer, Peter B. Reich, Christiane Roscher, Michael Scherer-Lorenzen, David Tilman, Alexandra Weigelt, Alexandra J. Wright, Nico Eisenhauer, Cameron Wagg

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter

5 Scopus citations

Abstract

It is now well established that biodiversity plays an important role in determining ecosystem functioning and its stability over time. A possible mechanism for this positive effect of biodiversity is that more diverse plant communities have a greater capacity to respond to environmental changes through shifts in species dominance and composition. In our study, we utilized data from five long-term grassland biodiversity experiments located in North America (three studies) and Central Europe (two studies), in which plant species richness and global change drivers were manipulated simultaneously. The global change drivers included warming, drought, elevated atmospheric CO2 concentrations, elevated N inputs, or intensive management. Across drivers, functional change over time was significantly greater for communities of high plant diversity than that of low diversity because of a higher functional and phylogenetic richness and mostly associated with a dominance by species with a ‘slow and tall’ strategy. Community functional shifts in response to global change drivers were, however, relatively weak and mostly not influenced by diversity. The exception to this was warming, where diverse communities showed stronger shifts than species-poor communities. Our results confirm the hypothesis that diverse communities have a greater capacity for functional change than species-poor communities, particularly in their successional dynamics, but also potentially in their responses to environmental change. This capacity could underlie the positive biodiversity-stability relationship and buffer ecosystem responses to environmental change.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationAdvances in Ecological Research
EditorsNico Eisenhauer, David A. Bohan, Alex J. Dumbrell
PublisherAcademic Press Inc.
Pages91-131
Number of pages41
ISBN (Print)9780081029121
DOIs
StatePublished - 2019

Publication series

NameAdvances in Ecological Research
Volume61
ISSN (Print)0065-2504

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This work was done on the basis of a workshop ‘Community assemblyʼ, which was funded by the German research foundation (FOR 1451; Ei 862/13-1). The data from the Jena Experiment were obtained by funding from the Universities of Jena and Zurich (drought experiment) and German research foundation (FOR 456, FOR 1451, Management experiment). Funding for the BAC experiment was provided by the National Science Foundation DEB-062065, DEB-1234162 and the Minnesota Environment and Natural Resources Trust Fund as recommended by the Legislative– Citizen Commission on Minnesota Resources (LCCMR, project ID: 048-B1). BioCON was supported by the Department of Energy (DOE/DE-FG02-96ER62291) and the National Science Foundation (NSF Biocomplexity 0322057, NSF LTER DEB 9411972, DEB 0080382, DEB 0620652, NSF LTREB 0716587, DEB-1234162 and NSF LTREB 0716587), the DOE Office of Science, Biological and Environmental Research, through the Midwestern Regional Center of the National Institute for Climatic Change Research at Michigan Technological University (DE-FC02-06ER64158) and the Minnesota Environment and Natural Resources Trust Fund as recommended by the Legislative– Citizen Commission on Minnesota Resources. We gratefully acknowledge the help of the coordinators of the experimental sites as well as all gardeners, technicians and numerous student helpers, who supported the establishment of the experiments, maintained the long-term experimental plots and helped with data collections. Comments by two anonymous reviewers helped to improve our manuscript.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2019 Elsevier Ltd

Keywords

  • Biodiversity
  • Community assembly
  • Experimental grassland
  • Fast-slow traits
  • Functional diversity
  • Phylogenetic diversity
  • Temporal development

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