New publication from Wagg et al. in Nature Communication: Biodiversity–stability relationships strengthen over time in a long-term grassland experiment

Numerous studies have demonstrated that biodiversity drives ecosystem functioning, yet how biodiversity loss alters ecosystems functioning and stability in the long-term lacks experimental evidence. We report temporal effects of species richness on community productivity, stability, species asynchrony, and complementarity, and how the relationships among them change over 17 years in a grassland biodiversity experiment. Productivity declined more rapidly in less diverse communities resulting in temporally strengthening positive effects of richness on productivity, complementarity, and stability. In later years asynchrony played a more important role in increasing community stability as the negative effect of richness on population stability diminished. Only during later years did species complementarity relate to species asynchrony. These results show that species complementarity and asynchrony can take more than a decade to develop strong stabilizing effects on ecosystem functioning in diverse plant communities. Thus, the mechanisms stabilizing ecosystem functioning change with community age.

figure 1
Fig. 1 | Sown species richness–productivity relationships through time. The log linear relationships between sown species richness and a aboveground net primary productivity (ANPP square root transformed prior to analysis) of the communities and b relative yield (ANPP divided by mean ANPP of monocultures in that year) of the communities are shown for each year (1 = 2003, 17 = 2019). c The slope of the log–log relationship (power exponent b of curves shown in b) corresponding to the increase in biomass per added species relative to the mean ANPP of all monocultures for each year. d The change in ANPP of the communities over time relative to their ANPPs in year 1 for each sown species richness level 1–1


Wagg, C., Roscher, C., Weigelt, A. et al. Biodiversity–stability relationships strengthen over time in a long-term grassland experiment. Nat Commun 13, 7752 (2022).