Positive biodiversity-productivity relationship predominant in global forests

Jingjing Liang, Thomas W. Crowther, Nicolas Picard, Susan Wiser, Mo Zhou, Giorgio Alberti, Ernst Detlef Schulze, A. David McGuire, Fabio Bozzato, Hans Pretzsch, Sergio De-Miguel, Alain Paquette, Bruno Hérault, Michael Scherer-Lorenzen, Christopher B. Barrett, Henry B. Glick, Geerten M. Hengeveld, Gert Jan Nabuurs, Sebastian Pfautsch, Helder VianaAlexander C. Vibrans, Christian Ammer, Peter Schall, David Verbyla, Nadja Tchebakova, Markus Fischer, James V. Watson, Han Y H Chen, Xiangdong Lei, Mart Jan Schelhaas, Huicui Lu, Damiano Gianelle, Elena I. Parfenova, Christian Salas, Eungul Lee, Boknam Lee, Hyun Seok Kim, Helge Bruelheide, David A. Coomes, Daniel Piotto, Terry Sunderland, Bernhard Schmid, Sylvie Gourlet-Fleury, Bonaventure Sonké, Rebecca Tavani, Jun Zhu, Susanne Brandl, Jordi Vayreda, Fumiaki Kitahara, Eric B. Searle, Victor J. Neldner, Michael R. Ngugi, Christopher Baraloto, Lorenzo Frizzera, Radomir Bałazy, Jacek Oleksyn, Tomasz Zawiła-Niedźwiecki, Olivier Bouriaud, Filippo Bussotti, Leena Finér, Bogdan Jaroszewicz, Tommaso Jucker, Fernando Valladares, Andrzej M. Jagodzinski, Pablo L. Peri, Christelle Gonmadje, William Marthy, Timothy O'Brien, Emanuel H. Martin, Andrew R. Marshall, Francesco Rovero, Robert Bitariho, Pascal A. Niklaus, Patricia Alvarez-Loayza, Nurdin Chamuya, Renato Valencia, Frédéric Mortier, Verginia Wortel, Nestor L. Engone-Obiang, Leandro V. Ferreira, David E. Odeke, Rodolfo M. Vasquez, Simon L. Lewis, Peter B. Reich

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

652 Scopus citations


The biodiversity-productivity relationship (BPR) is foundational to our understanding of the global extinction crisis and its impacts on ecosystem functioning. Understanding BPR is critical for the accurate valuation and effective conservation of biodiversity. Using ground-sourced data from 777,126 permanent plots, spanning 44 countries and most terrestrial biomes, we reveal a globally consistent positive concave-down BPR, showing that continued biodiversity loss would result in an accelerating decline in forest productivity worldwide. The value of biodiversity in maintaining commercial forest productivity alone - US$166 billion to 490 billion per year according to our estimation - is more than twice what it would cost to implement effective global conservation. This highlights the need for a worldwide reassessment of biodiversity values, forest management strategies, and conservation priorities.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numberaaf8957
Issue number6309
StatePublished - Oct 14 2016

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
We are grateful to all the people and agencies that helped in collection, compilation, and coordination of the field data, including but not limited to T. Malone, J. Crowe, M. Sutton, J. Lovett, P. Munishi, M. Rautiainen, staff members from the Seoul National University Forest, and all persons who made the two Spanish Forest Inventories possible, especially the main coordinators, R. Villaescusa (IFN2) and J. A. Villanueva (IFN3). This work was supported in part by West Virginia University under the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) McIntire-Stennis Funds WVA00104 and WVA00105; U.S. National Science Foundation (NSF) Long-Term Ecological Research Program at Cedar Creek (DEB-1234162); the University of Minnesota Department of Forest Resources and Institute on the Environment; the Architecture and Environment Department of Italcementi Group, Bergamo (Italy); a Marie Skłodowska Curie fellowship; Polish National Science Center grant 2011/02/A/NZ9/00108; the French L'Agence Nationale de la Recherche (ANR) (Centre d'Étude de la Biodiversité Amazonienne: ANR-10-LABX-0025); the General Directory of State Forest National Holding DB; General Directorate of State Forests, Warsaw, Poland (Research Projects 1/07 and OR/2717/3/11); the 12th Five-Year Science and Technology Support Project (grant 2012BAD22B02) of China; the U.S. Geological Survey and the Bonanza Creek Long Term Ecological Research Program funded by NSF and the U.S. Forest Service (any use of trade, firm, or product names is for descriptive purposes only and does not imply endorsement by the U.S. government); National Research Foundation of Korea (grant NRF-2015R1C1A1A02037721), Korea Forest Service (grants S111215L020110, S211315L020120 and S111415L080120) and Promising-Pioneering Researcher Program through Seoul National University (SNU) in 2015; Core funding for Crown Research Institutes from the New Zealand Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment's Science and Innovation Group; the Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft (DFG) Priority Program 1374 Biodiversity Exploratories; Chilean research grants Fondo Nacional de Desarrollo Científico y Tecnológico (FONDECYT) 1151495 and 11110270; Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada (grant RGPIN-2014-04181); Brazilian Research grants CNPq 312075/2013 and FAPESC 2013/TR441 supporting Santa Catarina State Forest Inventory (IFFSC); the General Directorate of State Forests, Warsaw, Poland; the Bavarian State Ministry for Nutrition, Agriculture, and Forestry project W07; the Bavarian State Forest Enterprise (Bayerische Staatsforsten AöR); German Science Foundation for project PR 292/12-1; the European Union for funding the COST Action FP1206 EuMIXFOR; FEDER/COMPETE/POCI under Project POCI-01-0145-FEDER-006958 and FCT-Portuguese Foundation for Science and Technology under the project UID/AGR/04033/2013; Swiss National Science Foundation grant 310030B-147092; the EU H2020 PEGASUS project (no 633814), EU H2020 Simwood project (no 613762); and the European Union's Horizon 2020 research and innovation program within the framework of the MultiFUNGtionality Marie Skłodowska-Curie Individual Fellowship (IF-EF) under grant agreement 655815. The expeditions in Cameroon to collect the data were partly funded by a grant from the Royal Society and the Natural Environment Research Council (UK) to Simon L. Lewis. Pontifica Universidad Católica del Ecuador offered working facilities and reduced station fees to implement the census protocol in Yasuni National Park. We thank the following agencies and organization for providing the data: USDA Forest Service; School of Natural Resources and Agricultural Sciences, University of Alaska Fairbanks; the Ministère des Forêts, de la Faune et des Parcs du Québec (Canada); the Alberta Department of Agriculture and Forestry, the Saskatchewan Ministry of the Environment, and Manitoba Conservation and Water Stewardship (Canada); the National Vegetation Survey Databank (New Zealand); Italian and Friuli Venezia Giulia Forest Services (Italy); Bavarian State Forest Enterprise (Bayerische Staatsforsten AöR) and the Thünen Institute of Forest Ecosystems (Germany); Queensland Herbarium (Australia); Forestry Commission of New South Wales (Australia); Instituto de Conservação da Natureza e das Florestas (Portugal). M'Baïki data were made possible and provided by the ARF Project (Appui la Recherche Forestière) and its partners: AFD (Agence Française de Développement), CIRAD (Centre de Coopération Internationale en Recherche Agronomique pour le Développement), ICRA (Institut Centrafricain de Recherche Agronomique), MEDDEFCP (Ministère de l'Environnement, du Développement Durable des Eaux, Forêts, Chasse et Pêche), SCAC/MAE (Service de Coopération et d'Actions Culturelles, Ministère des Affaires Etrangères), SCAD (Société Centrafricaine de Déroulage), and the University of Bangui. All TEAM data were provided by the Tropical Ecology Assessment and Monitoring (TEAM) Network - a collaboration between Conservation International, the Smithsonian Institute, and the Wildlife Conservation Society - and partially funded by these institutions: the Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation, the Valuing the Arc Project (Leverhulme Trust), and other donors. The Exploratory plots of FunDivEUROPE received funding from the European Union Seventh Framework Programme (FP7/2007-2013) under grant agreement 265171. The Chinese Comparative Study Plots (CSPs) were established in the framework of BEF-China, funded by the German Research Foundation (DFG FOR891); The Gabon data set was provided by the Institut de Recherche en Ecologie Tropicale (IRET)/Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique et Technologique (CENAREST); Dutch inventory data collection was done with the help of Probos, Silve, Bureau van Nierop and Wim Daamen, financed by the Dutch Ministry of Economic Affairs. Data collection in Middle Eastern countries was supported by the Spanish Agency for International Development Cooperation [Agencia Española de Cooperación Internacional para el Desarrollo (AECID)] and Fundación Biodiversidad, in cooperation with the governments of Syria and Lebanon. We are grateful to the Polish State Forest Holding for the data collected in the project "Establishment of a forest information system covering the area of the Sudetes and the West Beskids with respect to the forest condition monitoring and assessment" financed by the General Directory of State Forest National Holding. We thank two reviewers who provided constructive and helpful comments to help us further improve this paper. The data used in this manuscript are summarized in the supplementary materials (tables S1 and S2). All data needed to replicate these results are available at https://figshare.com and www.gfbinitiative.org. New Zealand data (doi:10.7931/V13W29) are available from S.W. under a materials agreement with the National Vegetation Survey Databank managed by Landcare Research, New Zealand. Access to Poland data needs additional permission from Polish State Forest National Holding, as provided to T.Z.-N.

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© 2016, American Association for the Advancement of Science. All rights reserved.


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