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Evolution increases ecosystem temporal stability and recovery from a flood in grassland communities


van Moorsel, Sofia; Hahl, Terhi; Petchey, Owen L; Ebeling, Anne; Eisenhauer, Nico; Schmid, Bernhard; Wagg, Cameron (2018). Evolution increases ecosystem temporal stability and recovery from a flood in grassland communities. bioRxiv 262337, University of Zurich.

Abstract

Understanding factors that increase ecosystem stability is critical in the face of environmental change. Biodiversity plays a key role in buffering ecosystems against disturbances such as extreme climatic events. The evolution of biological communities within their local environment may also increase ecosystem stability and resilience, but this has yet to be tested. Here, we provide evidence for such evolutionary effects using a long-term grassland biodiversity experiment. Communities of plants with a history of co-occurrence (co-selected communities) were temporally more stable at low diversity than the same communities of plants with no such history (naïve communities). Furthermore, co-selected communities exhibited greater recovery following a major flood, resulting in more stable post-flood productivity. These results demonstrate that community evolution can increase ecosystem stability under normal circumstances and in response to extreme disturbance, but also suggest that high diversity can in part compensate for evolutionary naïvety.

Abstract

Understanding factors that increase ecosystem stability is critical in the face of environmental change. Biodiversity plays a key role in buffering ecosystems against disturbances such as extreme climatic events. The evolution of biological communities within their local environment may also increase ecosystem stability and resilience, but this has yet to be tested. Here, we provide evidence for such evolutionary effects using a long-term grassland biodiversity experiment. Communities of plants with a history of co-occurrence (co-selected communities) were temporally more stable at low diversity than the same communities of plants with no such history (naïve communities). Furthermore, co-selected communities exhibited greater recovery following a major flood, resulting in more stable post-flood productivity. These results demonstrate that community evolution can increase ecosystem stability under normal circumstances and in response to extreme disturbance, but also suggest that high diversity can in part compensate for evolutionary naïvety.

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Additional indexing

Item Type:Working Paper
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:2018
Deposited On:21 Feb 2019 10:41
Last Modified:08 Mar 2019 13:23
Series Name:bioRxiv
OA Status:Hybrid
Free access at:Publisher DOI. An embargo period may apply.
Publisher DOI:https://doi.org/10.1101/262337

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