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Community evolution increases plant productivity at low diversity


van Moorsel, Sofia J; Hahl, Terhi; Wagg, Cameron; De Deyn, Gerlinde B; Flynn, Dan F B; Zuppinger-Dingley, Debra; Schmid, Bernhard (2017). Community evolution increases plant productivity at low diversity. Ecology Letters, 21(1):128-137.

Abstract

Species extinctions from local communities negatively affect ecosystem functioning. Ecological mechanisms underlying these impacts are well studied, but the role of evolutionary processes is rarely assessed. Using a long‐term field experiment, we tested whether natural selection in plant communities increased biodiversity effects on productivity. We re‐assembled communities with 8‐year co‐selection history adjacent to communities with identical species composition but no history of co‐selection (‘naïve communities’). Monocultures, and in particular mixtures of two to four co‐selected species, were more productive than their corresponding naïve communities over 4 years in soils with or without co‐selected microbial communities. At the highest diversity level of eight plant species, no such differences were observed. Our findings suggest that plant community evolution can lead to rapid increases in ecosystem functioning at low diversity but may take longer at high diversity. This effect was not modified by treatments simulating co‐evolutionary processes between plants and soil organisms.

Abstract

Species extinctions from local communities negatively affect ecosystem functioning. Ecological mechanisms underlying these impacts are well studied, but the role of evolutionary processes is rarely assessed. Using a long‐term field experiment, we tested whether natural selection in plant communities increased biodiversity effects on productivity. We re‐assembled communities with 8‐year co‐selection history adjacent to communities with identical species composition but no history of co‐selection (‘naïve communities’). Monocultures, and in particular mixtures of two to four co‐selected species, were more productive than their corresponding naïve communities over 4 years in soils with or without co‐selected microbial communities. At the highest diversity level of eight plant species, no such differences were observed. Our findings suggest that plant community evolution can lead to rapid increases in ecosystem functioning at low diversity but may take longer at high diversity. This effect was not modified by treatments simulating co‐evolutionary processes between plants and soil organisms.

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Additional indexing

Item Type:Journal Article, refereed, further contribution
Communities & Collections:07 Faculty of Science > Institute of Evolutionary Biology and Environmental Studies
Dewey Decimal Classification:570 Life sciences; biology
590 Animals (Zoology)
Language:English
Date:2017
Deposited On:08 May 2018 15:05
Last Modified:19 Aug 2018 15:39
Publisher:Wiley-Blackwell Publishing, Inc.
ISSN:1461-023X
OA Status:Green
Free access at:Publisher DOI. An embargo period may apply.
Publisher DOI:https://doi.org/10.1111/ele.12879
Project Information:
  • : FunderSNSF
  • : Grant ID31003A_166457
  • : Project TitleFundamental biological causes of changing plant diversity-productivity relationships
  • : FunderSNSF
  • : Grant ID31003A_130720
  • : Project TitleCommunity history and ecosystem functioning
  • : FunderSNSF
  • : Grant ID310030B_147092
  • : Project TitleCommunity history, biodiversity and ecosystem functioning

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