Synchrony matters more than species richness in plant community stability at a global scale

Enrique Valencia, Francesco de Bello, Thomas Galland, Peter B Adler, Jan Lepš, Anna E-Vojtkó, Roel van Klink, Carlos P Carmona, Jiří Danihelka, Jürgen Dengler, David J Eldridge, Marc Estiarte, Ricardo García-González, Eric Garnier, Daniel Gómez-García, Susan P Harrison, Tomáš Herben, Ricardo Ibáñez, Anke Jentsch, Norbert JuergensMiklós Kertész, Katja Klumpp, Frédérique Louault, Rob H Marrs, Romà Ogaya, Gábor Ónodi, Robin J Pakeman, Iker Pardo, Meelis Pärtel, Begoña Peco, Josep Peñuelas, Richard F Pywell, Marta Rueda, Wolfgang Schmidt, Ute Schmiedel, Martin Schuetz, Hana Skálová, Petr Šmilauer, Marie Šmilauerová, Christian Smit, MingHua Song, Martin Stock, James Val, Vigdis Vandvik, David Ward, Karsten Wesche, Susan K Wiser, Ben A Woodcock, Truman P Young, Fei-Hai Yu, Martin Zobel, Lars Götzenberger

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The stability of ecological communities is critical for the stable provisioning of ecosystem services, such as food and forage production, carbon sequestration, and soil fertility. Greater biodiversity is expected to enhance stability across years by decreasing synchrony among species, but the drivers of stability in nature remain poorly resolved. Our analysis of time series from 79 datasets across the world showed that stability was associated more strongly with the degree of synchrony among dominant species than with species richness. The relatively weak influence of species richness is consistent with theory predicting that the effect of richness on stability weakens when synchrony is higher than expected under random fluctuations, which was the case in most communities. Land management, nutrient addition, and climate change treatments had relatively weak and varying effects on stability, modifying how species richness, synchrony, and stability interact. Our results demonstrate the prevalence of biotic drivers on ecosystem stability, with the potential for environmental drivers to alter the intricate relationship among richness, synchrony, and stability.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)24345-24351
Number of pages7
JournalProceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America
Issue number39
Publication statusPublished - 29-Sep-2020

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