Biodiversity–ecosystem functioning experiments found that productivity generally increases with species richness, but less is known about effects of within‐species genetic richness and potential interactions between the two. While functional differences between species can explain species richness effects, empirical evidence regarding functional differences between genotypes within species and potential consequences for productivity is largely lacking.
We therefore measured within‐ and among‐species variation in functional traits and growth and determined stand‐level tree biomass in a large forest experiment factorially manipulating species and genetic richness in subtropical China.
Within‐species variation across genetic seed families, in addition to variation across species, explained a substantial amount of trait variation. Furthermore, trait responses to species and genetic richness varied significantly within and between species. Multivariate trait variation was larger among individuals from species mixtures than those from species monocultures, but similar among individuals from genetically diverse vs genetically uniform monocultures. Correspondingly, species but not genetic richness had a positive effect on stand‐level tree biomass.
We argue that identifying functional diversity within and among species in forest communities is necessary to separate effects of species and genetic diversity on tree growth and community productivity.