U.S. Department of Agriculture: Agricultural Research Service, Lincoln, Nebraska


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Published in Oikos 116: 2044-2052, 2007.


Species diversity is thought to stabilize functioning of plant communities. An alternative view is that stability depends more on dynamics of dominant species than on diversity. We compared inter-annual variability (inverse of stability) of aboveground biomass in paired restored and remnant tallgrass prairies at two locations in central Texas, USA. Data from these two locations were used to test the hypothesis that greater richness and evenness in remnant than restored prairies would reduce variability in aboveground biomass in response to natural variation in rainfall. Restored prairies were chosen to be similar to paired remnant prairies in characteristics other than species diversity that affect temporal variability in biomass. Variability was measured as the coefficient of variation among years (square root of variance/mean; CV), where variance in community biomass equals the sum of variances of individual plant species plus the summed covariances between species pairs.