Papers in the Biological Sciences



Yann Hautier, University of Minnesota
Eric W. Seabloom, University of Minnesota
Elizabeth T. Borer, University of Minnesota
Peter B. Adler, Utah State University
W. Stanley Harpole, Utah State University
Helmut Hillebrand, Carl-von-Ossietzky University Oldenburg
Eric M. Lind, University of Minnesota
Andrew S. MacDougall, University of Guelph
Carly J. Stevens, Lancaster UniversityFollow
Jonathan D. Bakker, University of Washington
Yvonne M. Buckley, The University of Queensland
Chengjin Chu, Lanzhou University
Scott L. Collins, University of New Mexico
Pedro Daleo, Instituto de Investigaciones Marinas y Costeras
Ellen I. Damschen, University of Wisconsin - Madison
Kendi F. Davies, University of Colorado
Philip A. Fay, USDA-ARS
Jennifer Firn, Queensland University of Technology
Daniel S. Gruner, University of Maryland
Virginia L. Jin, United States Department of Agriculture Agricultural Research Service
Julia A. Klein, Colorado State University - Fort Collins
Johannes M. N. Knops, University of Nebraska - LincolnFollow
Kimberly J. La Pierre, University of California - Berkeley
Wei Li, Southwest Forestry University
Rebecca L. McCulley, University of Kentucky
Brett A. Melbourne, University of Colorado at Boulder
Joslin L. Moore, University of Melbourne
Lydia R. O’Halloran, Oregon State University
Suzanne M. Prober, CSIRO Ecosystem Sciences
Anita C. Risch, Swiss Federal Institute for Forest
Mahesh Sankaran, University of Leeds
Martin Schuetz, Swiss Federal Institute for Forest
Andy Hector, University of Oxford

Date of this Version



Nature (2014), doi:10.1038/nature13014; Published online February 16, 2014


This article is a U.S. government work, and is not subject to copyright in the United States.


Studies of experimental grassland communities1–7 have demonstrated that plant diversity can stabilize productivity through species asynchrony, in which decreases in the biomass of some species are compensated for by increases in others1,2. However, it remains unknown whether these findings are relevant to natural ecosystems, especially those for which species diversity is threatened by anthropogenic global change8–11. Here we analyse diversity–stability relationships from 41 grasslands on five continents and examine how these relationships are affected by chronic fertilization, one of the strongest drivers of species loss globally8. Unmanipulated communities with more species had greater species asynchrony, resulting in more stable biomass production, generalizing a result from biodiversity experiments to real-world grasslands. However, fertilization weakened the positive effect of diversity on stability. Contrary to expectations, this was not due to species loss after eutrophication but rather to an increase in the temporal variation of productivity in combination with a decrease in species asynchrony in diverse communities. Our results demonstrate separate and synergistic effects of diversity and eutrophication on stability, emphasizing the need to understand how drivers of global change interactively affect the reliable provisioning of ecosystem services in real-world systems.

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