Diversity and productivity in a long-term grassland experiment

Science
David TilmanC Lehman

Abstract

Plant diversity and niche complementarity had progressively stronger effects on ecosystem functioning during a 7-year experiment, with 16-species plots attaining 2.7 times greater biomass than monocultures. Diversity effects were neither transients nor explained solely by a few productive or unviable species. Rather, many higher-diversity plots outperformed the best monoculture. These results help resolve debate over biodiversity and ecosystem functioning, show effects at higher than expected diversity levels, and demonstrate, for these ecosystems, that even the best-chosen monocultures cannot achieve greater productivity or carbon stores than higher-diversity sites.

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