Diversity-productivity relations at a northern prairie site: An investigation using spectral data

Abstract

The impact of decreasing plant diversity on terrestrial ecosystem productivity remains controversial. Recent studies generally suggest that diverse plant communities are more productive than depauperate versions. However, there is less agreement as to whether this is caused by the number of species present, the identities of the species present, the number of functional groups that these species make up, or by which functional groups are represented. This study evaluates whether relationships between plant diversity and productivity in northern mixed grass prairie are dependent on (a) the diversity measure used (species richness vs. functional richness), (b) the productivity measure utilized, or (c) the scale of observation. We collected plant diversity and productivity information over circular plots of 0.5 m diameter during the summer of 1998, then used a spatially nested sampling design to scale each property and their relationships to 2.5 m, 10 m and 50 m sampling resolutions. Observed diversity-productivity relationships were dependent on all of the above factors. Richness-productivity relationships were found to be mostly asymptotic at all observational scales. The presence of particular species, and functional groups, alone or in combination all had significant effects on productivity at the plot (0.5m) level, but not at coarser resolutions. These results were consistent with those of other studies, and suggest that the higher productivities of diverse grassland plots in our grassland site might result from the effects of diversity and the presence of productive species. The lack of species effects at coarser resolutions suggest other mechanisms are responsible for such relationships at these scales.

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Correspondence to A. Davidson.

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Davidson, A., Csillag, F. & Wilmshurst, J. Diversity-productivity relations at a northern prairie site: An investigation using spectral data. COMMUNITY ECOLOGY 8, 87–102 (2007). https://doi.org/10.1556/ComEc.8.2007.1.11

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Keywords

  • Diversity
  • Functional group
  • Grasslands
  • Productivity
  • Radiometry
  • Richness