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ARS Home » Plains Area » Temple, Texas » Grassland Soil and Water Research Laboratory » Research » Publications at this Location » Publication #358993

Research Project: Development and Evaluation of Sustainable Crop and Grassland Production Systems

Location: Grassland Soil and Water Research Laboratory

Title: Biotic homogenization destabilizes ecosystem functioning by decreasing spatial asynchrony

item WANG, SHAOPENG - Peking University
item LOREAU, MICHEL - University Of Toulouse
item DE MAZANCOURT, CLAIRE - University Of Toulouse
item ISBELL, FOREST - University Of Minnesota
item BEIERKUHNLEIN, CARL - University Of Bayreuth
item CONNOLLY, JOHN - Martin Luther University
item DEUTSCHMAN, DOUGLAS - Wilfrid Laurier University
item DOLEZAL, JIRI - Czech Academy Of Sciences
item EISENHAUER, NICO - Leipzig University
item HECTOR, ANDY - University Of Oxford
item JENTSCH, ANKE - University Of Bayreuth
item KREYLING, JURGEN - University Of Greifswald
item LANTA, VOJTECH - University Of South Bohemia
item LEPS, JAN - Institute For Entomology - Czech Republic
item Polley, Wayne
item REICH, PETER - University Of Minnesota
item VAN RUIJVEN, JASPER - University Of Wageningen
item SCHMID, BERNHARD - University Of Zurich
item TILMAN, DAVID - University Of Minnesota
item WILSEY, BRIAN - Iowa State University
item CRAVEN, DYLAN - University Of Gottingen

Submitted to: Ecology
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: 1/11/2021
Publication Date: 6/8/2021
Citation: Wang, S., Loreau, M., de Mazancourt, C., Isbell, F., Beierkuhnlein, C., Connolly, J., Deutschman, D.H., Dolezal, J., Eisenhauer, N., Hector, A., Jentsch, A., Kreyling, J., Lanta, V., Leps, J., Polley, H.W., Reich, P.B., van Ruijven, J., Schmid, B., Tilman, D., Wilsey, B., Craven, D. 2021. Biotic homogenization destabilizes ecosystem functioning by decreasing spatial asynchrony. Ecology. 102(6). Article e03332.

Interpretive Summary: Although the negative effects of local biodiversity loss on ecosystem functioning and stability are well documented, the ecological consequences of biodiversity changes at large spatial scales are still poorly known. Recent theory predicts that biotic homogenization and the loss of beta diversity can decrease spatial asynchrony among local communities, and hence the temporal stability of large-scale ecosystem functions. Using data from 39 grassland biodiversity experiments, we test the effects of beta diversity on spatial asynchrony and ecosystem stability at large scales once controlling for potential confounding effects of biotic and abiotic factors. Our results show that beta diversity generates more asynchronous dynamics among local communities and thereby contributes to enhancing the stability of ecosystem productivity at larger spatial scales. The stabilizing effect of beta diversity, however, is weaker than that of alpha diversity, possibly due to the small spatial extent and sampling size of the experiments. Our findings demonstrate the destabilizing effect of biotic homogenization and suggest that biodiversity at multiple spatial scales should be conserved to maintain the stability of ecosystem functions and services at large scales.

Technical Abstract: Increasing plant species diversity by increasing both the equity in species abundances and species numbers has been found to increase plant productivity and reduce interannual variation in productivity (increase stability) in multi-species grasslands. Most manipulative diversity experiments have been performed using relatively small plots. The question of how diversity change affects stability at the larger spatial scales that are more directly relevant to management remains poorly studied. Recent theory predicts that productivity across large spatial scales is stabilized when local communities differ in species composition. Local differences in species promote local differences in the response of productivity to environmental fluctuations, such that productivity will increase in some communities while decreasing in others. These differing responses are hypothesized to reduce variation at the large spatial scale of multiple local communities combined. We used data from 39 grassland biodiversity experiments to test effects of spatial differences in vegetation on stability in productivity at large spatial extents. Results show that spatial differences in vegetation contribute to stability in plant productivity by contributing to variation in productivity among local communities in response to environmental fluctuations. Our findings imply that grassland functions and services can be stabilized partly by increasing spatial differences in plant composition.