, 31:965

Plant Community Composition More Predictive than Diversity of Carbon Cycling in Freshwater Wetlands

  • Rachel Schultz
  • Sarah Andrews
  • Lindsay O’Reilly
  • Virginie Bouchard
  • Serita Frey


Changes in the world’s species composition and the loss of biodiversity have prompted a closer investigation of the importance of biodiversity and community composition to ecosystem functioning. However, few studies have explored this relationship outside of controlled experiments. Here, we examined the relationship between plant diversity, primary production, and methane efflux in freshwater wetlands in an across-site field study and assessed the applicability of experimental findings to natural wetlands. Four wetland sites in central Ohio (USA) were divided into two plant communities, one dominated by clonal species and one dominated by non-clonal species. We found that plant diversity was negatively correlated with aboveground biomass in both the clonal and non-clonal communities. Overall, plant community composition was a stronger predictor than diversity of the response variables and in certain instances a stronger predictor than environmental factors such as soil organic matter content, moisture content, and pH. Thus, plant community composition is an important driver of ecosystem functioning in depressional wetlands beyond the well-known environmental factors. Additionally, our work indicates that results from experimental wetland studies of the relationship among diversity, biomass and methane emission are not applicable to the wetland ecosystems included in our study.


Biodiversity Ecosystem functioning Methane Multivariate statistics Plant productivity 

Supplementary material

13157_2011_211_MOESM1_ESM.pdf (39 kb)
Online Resource 1Table describing the wetland sites used in the study. (PDF 39 kb)
13157_2011_211_MOESM2_ESM.pdf (45 kb)
Online Resource 2Equation for calculating methane efflux. (PDF 45 kb)
13157_2011_211_MOESM3_ESM.pdf (222 kb)
Online Resource 3Using nonmetric dimensional scaling procedures (NMDS) and principal components analysis (PCA) to format the data to use in the mixed effects model and structural equation modeling. (PDF 221 kb)
13157_2011_211_MOESM4_ESM.pdf (58 kb)
Online Resource 4Equation for calculating the chi-square value and independence statements for the d-separation test used to evaluate the structural equation models. (PDF 58 kb)
13157_2011_211_MOESM5_ESM.pdf (52 kb)
Online Resource 5Environmental, diversity and plant biomass descriptive statistics for the four sites in both the clonal and non-clonal communities. (PDF 51 kb)


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Copyright information

© Society of Wetland Scientists 2011

Authors and Affiliations

  • Rachel Schultz
    • 1
    • 3
  • Sarah Andrews
    • 2
  • Lindsay O’Reilly
    • 2
  • Virginie Bouchard
    • 1
  • Serita Frey
    • 2
  1. 1.School of Environment and Natural ResourcesThe Ohio State UniversityColumbusUSA
  2. 2.Department of Natural Resources and the EnvironmentUniversity of New HampshireDurhamUSA
  3. 3.Center of Earth and Environmental ScienceSUNY PlattsburghPlattsburghUSA

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