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Eutrophication weakens stabilizing effects of diversity in natural grasslands

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal article

  • Yann Hautier
  • Eric W. Seabloom
  • Elizabeth T. Borer
  • Peter B. Adler
  • W. Stanley Harpole
  • Helmut Hillebrand
  • Eric M. Lind
  • Andrew S. MacDougall
  • Jonathan D. Bakker
  • Yvonne M. Buckley
  • Chengjin Chu
  • Scott L. Collins
  • Pedro Daleo
  • Ellen I. Damschen
  • Kendi F. Davies
  • Philip A. Fay
  • Jennifer Firn
  • Daniel S. Gruner
  • Virginia L. Jin
  • Julia A. Klein
  • Johannes M. H. Knops
  • Kimberly J. La Pierre
  • Wei Li
  • Rebecca L. McCulley
  • Brett A. Melbourne
  • Joslin L. Moore
  • Lydia R. O'Halloran
  • Suzanne M. Prober
  • Anita C. Risch
  • Mahesh Sankaran
  • Martin Schuetz
  • Andy Hector
<mark>Journal publication date</mark>24/04/2014
Issue number7497
Number of pages5
Pages (from-to)521-525
Publication statusPublished
Early online date16/02/14
Original languageEnglish


Studies of experimental grassland communities(1-7) have demonstrated that plant diversity can stabilize productivity through species asynchrony, in which decreases in the biomass of some species are compensated for by increases in others(1,2). However, it remains unknown whether these findings are relevant to natural ecosystems, especially those for which species diversity is threatened by anthropogenic global change(8-11). Here we analyse diversity-stability relationships from 41 grasslands on five continents and examine how these relationships are affected by chronic fertilization, one of the strongest drivers of species loss globally(8). Unmanipulated communities with more species had greater species asynchrony, resulting in more stable biomass production, generalizing a result from biodiversity experiments to real-world grasslands. However, fertilization weakened the positive effect of diversity on stability. Contrary to expectations, this was not due to species loss after eutrophication but rather to an increase in the temporal variation of productivity in combination with a decrease in species asynchrony in diverse communities. Our results demonstrate separate and synergistic effects of diversity and eutrophication on stability, emphasizing the need to understand how drivers of global change interactively affect the reliable provisioning of ecosystem services in real-world systems.