Mechanistic links between biodiversity effects on ecosystem functioning and stability in a multi-site grassland experiment

Ying Yan, John Connolly, Maowei Liang, Lin Jiang, Shaopeng Wang

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Although the positive effects of biodiversity on ecosystem functioning and stability have been extensively documented in the literature, previous studies have mostly explored the mechanisms of functioning and stability independently. It is unclear how biodiversity effects on functioning may covary with those on stability. Here we developed an integrated framework to explore links between mechanisms underlying biodiversity effects on functioning and those on stability. Specifically, biodiversity effects on ecosystem functioning were partitioned into complementarity effects (CE) and selection effects (SE), and those on stability were partitioned into species asynchrony and species stability. We investigated how CE and SE were linked to species asynchrony and stability and how their links might be mediated by species evenness, using a multi-site grassland experiment. Our mixed-effects models showed that a higher community productivity was mainly due to CE and a higher community stability was mainly due to species asynchrony. Moreover, CE was positively related to species asynchrony, thus leading to a positive association between ecosystem productivity and stability. We used a structural equation model to illustrate how species evenness might mediate links between the various mechanisms. Communities with a higher evenness exhibited a higher CE and species asynchrony, but a lower SE and species stability. These evenness-mediated associations enhanced the positive relationship between CE and species asynchrony, but blurred that between SE and species asynchrony. Synthesis. Our findings demonstrate mechanistic links between biodiversity effects on ecosystem functioning and stability. By doing so, our study contributes a novel framework for understanding ecological mechanisms of the functioning–stability relationship, which has important implications for developing management plans focused on strengthening synergies between ecosystem functioning and stability over the long term.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)3370-3378
Number of pages9
JournalJournal of Ecology
Issue number9
StatePublished - Sep 2021
Externally publishedYes

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This work was supported by the National Natural Science Foundation of China (31988102, 31870505) and the National Key Research and Development Program of China (2017YFC0503906). J.C. was supported by the International Research Training Group TreeDì funded by the Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft (DFG, German Research Foundation)—319936945/GRK2324. L.J. is supported by the National Science Foundation of USA (DEB‐1856318 and CBET‐1833988). The Agrodiversity experiment was supported by EU COST Action 852: Quality Legume‐Based Forage Systems for Contrasting Environments.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2021 British Ecological Society


  • biodiversity effects
  • complementarity effects
  • productivity
  • selection effects
  • species asynchrony
  • species evenness
  • species stability
  • stability


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