COS 42-8 - Biodiversity increases the resistance of ecosystem productivity to climate extremes

Wednesday, August 10, 2016: 10:30 AM
124/125, Ft Lauderdale Convention Center
Forest Isbell1, Dylan James Craven2, John Connolly3, Michel Loreau4, Bernhard Schmid5, Carl Beierkuhnlein6, T. Martijn Bezemer7, Catherine Bonin8, Helge Bruelheide9, Enrica de Luca10, Anne Ebeling11, John N. Griffin12, Qinfeng Guo13, Yann Hautier14, Andy Hector15, Anke Jentsch16, Juergen Kreyling17, Vojtech Lanta18, Pete Manning19, Sebastian T. Meyer20, Akira S. Mori21, Shahid Naeem22, Pascal A. Niklaus5, H. Wayne Polley23, Peter B. Reich24, Christiane Roscher25, Eric W. Seabloom1, Melinda D. Smith26, Madhav Prakash Thakur27, David Tilman28, Benjamin F. Tracy29, Wim H. Van der Putten30, Jasper van Ruijven31, Alexandra Weigelt32, Wolfgang W. Weisser33, Brian J. Wilsey34 and Nico Eisenhauer35, (1)Ecology, Evolution, and Behavior, University of Minnesota, Saint Paul, MN, (2)Synthesis Centre for Biodiversity Sciences (sDiv), German Centre for Integrative Biodiversity Research (iDiv), Leipzig, Germany, (3)School of Mathematics and Statistics, University College Dublin, Dublin 4, Ireland, (4)Centre for Biodiversity Theory and Modelling, Station d'Ecologie Expérimentale du CNRS à Moulis, France, (5)Department of Evolutionary Biology and Environmental Studies, University of Zurich, Zurich, Switzerland, (6)Biogeography, University of Bayreuth, Bayreuth, Germany, (7)Terrestrial Ecology, Netherlands Institute of Ecology (NIOO-KNAW), Wageningen, Netherlands, (8)Iowa State University, (9)Institute of Biology, Martin Luther University Halle-Wittenberg, Halle (Saale), Germany, (10)Institute of Evolutionary Biology and Environmental Studies, University of Zurich, Zurich, Switzerland, (11)Institute of Ecology, Friedrich Schiller University Jena, Jena, Germany, (12)Swansea University, Swansea, Wales, (13)Eastern Forest Environmental Threat Assessment Center, USDA Forest Service - Southern Research Station, Asheville, NC, (14)Utrecht University, (15)Department of Plant Sciences, University of Oxford, Oxford, United Kingdom, (16)Disturbance Ecology, University of Bayreuth, Germany, (17)Experimental Plant Ecology, Greifswald University, Germany, (18)University of South Bohemia, (19)Institute of Plant Sciences, University of Bern, Bern, Switzerland, (20)Research Department of Ecology and Ecosystem Management, Technische Universität München, Freising-Weihenstephan, Germany, (21)Yokohama National University, Yokohama, Japan, (22)Ecology, Evolution and Environmental Biology, Columbia University, New York, NY, (23)Grassland, Soil & Water Research Laboratory, USDA, Agricultural Research Service, Temple, TX, (24)Department of Forest Resources, University of Minnesota, St. Paul, MN, (25)Department of Community Ecology, Helmholtz Centre for Environmental Research, Halle, Germany, (26)Graduate Degree Program in Ecology, Colorado State University, Ft. Collins, CO, (27)Institute of Ecology, Friedrich-Schiller-University Jena, Jena, Germany, (28)Ecology, Evolution, and Behavior, University of Minnesota, St. Paul, MN, (29)Crop, Soil and Environmental Sciences, Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University, Blacksburg, VA, (30)Terrestrial Ecology, Netherlands Institute of Ecology, Wageningen, Netherlands, (31)Nature Conservation and Plant Ecology Group, Wageningen University, Wageningen, Netherlands, (32)German Centre for Integrative Biodiversity Research (iDiv) Halle-Jena-Leipzig, Leipzig, Germany, (33)Chair of Terrestrial Ecology, Technical University of Munich, Freising, Germany, (34)Ecology, Evolution, and Organismal Biology, Iowa State University, Ames, IA, (35)Institute of Biology, Leipzig University, Leipzig, Germany

It remains unclear whether biodiversity buffers ecosystems against climate extremes, which are becoming increasingly frequent worldwide. Early results suggested that the ecosystem productivity of diverse grassland plant communities was more resistant, changing less during drought, and more resilient, recovering more quickly after drought, than that of depauperate communities. However, subsequent experimental tests produced mixed results. Here we use data from 46 experiments that manipulated grassland plant diversity to test whether biodiversity provides resistance during and resilience after climate events.


We show that biodiversity increased ecosystem resistance for a broad range of climate events, including wet or dry, moderate or extreme, and brief or prolonged events. Across all studies and climate events, the productivity of low-diversity communities with one or two species changed by approximately 50% during climate events, whereas that of high-diversity communities with 16–32 species was more resistant, changing by only approximately 25%. By a year after each climate event, ecosystem productivity had often fully recovered, or over-shot, normal levels of productivity in both high- and low-diversity communities, leading to no detectable dependence of ecosystem resilience on biodiversity. Our results suggest that biodiversity mainly stabilizes ecosystem productivity, and productivity-dependent ecosystem services, by increasing resistance to climate events. Anthropogenic environmental changes that drive biodiversity loss thus seem likely to decrease ecosystem stability mainly by decreasing the resistance of ecosystem productivity to climate events.