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Scale-dependent relationships between tree species richness and ecosystem function in forests

Chisholm, Ryan A and Muller-Landau, Helene C and Abdul Rahman, Kassim and Bebber, Daniel P and Bin, Yue and Bohlman, Stephanie A and Bourg, Norman A and Brinks, Joshua and Bunyavejchewin, Sarayudh and Butt, Nathalie and Cao, Honglin and Cao, Min and Cardenas, Dairon and Chang, Li-Wan and Chiang, Jyh-Min and Chuyong, George B and Condit, Richard and Dattaraja, Handanakere S and Davies, Stuart and Duque, Alvaro and Fletcher, Christine and Gunatilleke, Nimal and Gunatilleke, Savitri and Hao, Zhanqing and Harrison, Rhett D and Howe, Robert and Hsieh, Chang-Fu and Hubbell, Stephen P and Itoh, Akira and Kenfack, David and Kiratiprayoon, Somboon and Larson, Andrew J and Lian, Juyu and Lin, Dunmei and Liu, Haifeng and Lutz, James A and Ma, Keping and Malhi, Yadvinder and McMahon, Sean and McShea, William and Meegaskumbura, Madhava and Razman, Salim Mohd and Morecroft, Michael D and Nytch, Christopher J and Oliveira, Alexandre and Parker, Geoffrey G and Pulla, Sandeep and Punchi-Manage, Ruwan and Romero-Saltos, Hugo and Sang, Weiguo and Schurman, Jon and Su, Sheng-Hsin and Sukumar, Raman and Sun, I-Fang and Suresh, Hebbalalu S and Tan, Sylvester and Thomas, Duncan and Thomas, Sean and Thompson, Jill and Valencia, Renato and Wolf, Amy and Yap, Sandra and Ye, Wanhui and Yuan, Zuoqiang and Zimmerman, Jess K (2013) Scale-dependent relationships between tree species richness and ecosystem function in forests. In: Journal of Ecology, 101 (5). pp. 1214-1224.

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Official URL: http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/1365-2745.12132


1. The relationship between species richness and ecosystem function, as measured by productivity or biomass, is of long-standing theoretical and practical interest in ecology. This is especially true for forests, which represent a majority of global biomass, productivity and biodiversity. 2. Here, we conduct an analysis of relationships between tree species richness, biomass and productivity in 25 forest plots of area 8-50ha from across the world. The data were collected using standardized protocols, obviating the need to correct for methodological differences that plague many studies on this topic. 3. We found that at very small spatial grains (0.04ha) species richness was generally positively related to productivity and biomass within plots, with a doubling of species richness corresponding to an average 48% increase in productivity and 53% increase in biomass. At larger spatial grains (0.25ha, 1ha), results were mixed, with negative relationships becoming more common. The results were qualitatively similar but much weaker when we controlled for stem density: at the 0.04ha spatial grain, a doubling of species richness corresponded to a 5% increase in productivity and 7% increase in biomass. Productivity and biomass were themselves almost always positively related at all spatial grains. 4. Synthesis. This is the first cross-site study of the effect of tree species richness on forest biomass and productivity that systematically varies spatial grain within a controlled methodology. The scale-dependent results are consistent with theoretical models in which sampling effects and niche complementarity dominate at small scales, while environmental gradients drive patterns at large scales. Our study shows that the relationship of tree species richness with biomass and productivity changes qualitatively when moving from scales typical of forest surveys (0.04ha) to slightly larger scales (0.25 and 1ha). This needs to be recognized in forest conservation policy and management.

Item Type: Journal Article
Publication: Journal of Ecology
Publisher: Wiley-Blackwell
Additional Information: Copyright of this article belongs to Wiley-Blackwell.
Keywords: Biodiversity; Biomass; Complementarity; Determinants of Plant Community Diversity and Structure; Productivity; Sampling Effects; Species Diversity; Trees
Department/Centre: Division of Biological Sciences > Centre for Ecological Sciences
Date Deposited: 25 Sep 2013 10:05
Last Modified: 01 Mar 2019 09:49
URI: http://eprints.iisc.ac.in/id/eprint/47426

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