Biodiversity–stability relationships strengthen over time in a long-term grassland experiment

Research output: Journal contributionsJournal articlesResearchpeer-review


  • Cameron Wagg
  • Christiane Roscher
  • Alexandra Weigelt
  • Anja Vogel
  • Anne Ebeling
  • Enrica de Luca
  • Anna Roeder
  • Clemens Kleinspehn
  • Vicky M. Temperton
  • Sebastian T. Meyer
  • Michael Scherer-Lorenzen
  • Nina Buchmann
  • Markus Fischer
  • Wolfgang W. Weisser
  • Nico Eisenhauer
  • Bernhard Schmid

Numerous studies have demonstrated that biodiversity drives ecosystem functioning, yet how biodiversity loss alters ecosystems functioning and stability in the long-term lacks experimental evidence. We report temporal effects of species richness on community productivity, stability, species asynchrony, and complementarity, and how the relationships among them change over 17 years in a grassland biodiversity experiment. Productivity declined more rapidly in less diverse communities resulting in temporally strengthening positive effects of richness on productivity, complementarity, and stability. In later years asynchrony played a more important role in increasing community stability as the negative effect of richness on population stability diminished. Only during later years did species complementarity relate to species asynchrony. These results show that species complementarity and asynchrony can take more than a decade to develop strong stabilizing effects on ecosystem functioning in diverse plant communities. Thus, the mechanisms stabilizing ecosystem functioning change with community age.

Original languageEnglish
Article number7752
JournalNature Communications
Issue number1
Number of pages11
Publication statusPublished - 14.12.2022

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
We are grateful to all Jena Experiment technicians and student helpers for their support in setting up and maintaining the experiment as well as their help with data collection. We also acknowledge the role of Prof. Ernst-Detlef Schulze for his instrumental role in establishing the Jena Experiment. This research was supported by the German Research Foundation (FOR 456, FOR 1451, and FOR 5000) awarded to the Jena research consortium and the Swiss National Science Foundation (147092 and 166457) awarded to Bernhard Schmid. Bernhard Schmid was additionally supported by the University Research Priority Program Global Change and Biodiversity of the University of Zurich.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2022, The Author(s).