Systematic distributions of interaction strengths across tree interaction networks yield positive diversity–productivity relationships

Research output: Journal contributionsComments / Debate / ReportsResearch


  • Wentao Yu
  • Georg Albert
  • Benjamin Rosenbaum
  • Florian Schnabel
  • Helge Bruelheide
  • John Connolly
  • Werner Härdtle
  • Goddert von Oheimb
  • Stefan Trogisch
  • Nadja Rüger
  • Ulrich Brose

Understanding the mechanisms underlying diversity–productivity relationships (DPRs) is crucial to mitigating the effects of forest biodiversity loss. Tree–tree interactions in diverse communities are fundamental in driving growth rates, potentially shaping the emergent DPRs, yet remain poorly explored. Here, using data from a large-scale forest biodiversity experiment in subtropical China, we demonstrated that changes in individual tree productivity were driven by species-specific pairwise interactions, with higher positive net pairwise interaction effects on trees in more diverse neighbourhoods. By perturbing the interactions strength from empirical data in simulations, we revealed that the positive differences between inter- and intra-specific interactions were the critical determinant for the emergence of positive DPRs. Surprisingly, the condition for positive DPRs corresponded to the condition for coexistence. Our results thus provide a novel insight into how pairwise tree interactions regulate DPRs, with implications for identifying the tree mixtures with maximized productivity to guide forest restoration and reforestation efforts.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere14338
JournalEcology Letters
Issue number1
Number of pages11
Publication statusPublished - 01.2024

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
WY, GA and FS were supported by the International Research Training Group TreeDì (GRK2324) jointly funded by the Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft (DFG, German Research Foundation)—319936945 and the University of Chinese Academy of Sciences (UCAS). GA was also supported by MultiTroph funded by DFG–FOR 5281, 452861007. GvO and WH were funded by DFG–FOR 891/1‐3 for the data collection period. WY, GA, UB and NR gratefully acknowledge the support of iDiv funded by the DFG–FZT 118, 202548816. Open Access funding enabled and organized by Projekt DEAL.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2023 The Authors. Ecology Letters published by John Wiley & Sons Ltd.

    Research areas

  • biodiversity–ecosystem functioning, competition, facilitation, interaction network, pairwise interaction
  • Biology