Productivity Is a Poor Predictor of Plant Species Richness

Date
2011-09-23
Authors
Biederman, Lori
Adler, Peter
Seabloom, Eric
Harpole, W. Stanley
Borer, Elizabeth
Hillebrand, Helmut
Hautler, Yann
Hector, Andy
Harpole, W.
O'Halloran, Lydia
Grace, James
Anderson, T.
Bakker, Jonathan
Biederman, Lori
Brown, Cynthia
Buckley, Yvonne
Calabrese, Laura
Chu, Cheng-Jin
Cleland, Elsa
Collins, Scott
Cottingham, Kathryn
Crawley, Michael
Damschen, Ellen
Davies, Kendi
DeCrappeo, Nicole
Fay, Philip
Firn, Jennifer
Frater, Paul
Gasarch, Eve
Gruner, Daniel
Hagenah, Nicole
HilleRisLambers, Janneke
Humphries, Hope
Jin, Virginia
Kay, Adam
Kirkman, Kevin
Klein, Julia
Knops, Johannes
La Pierre, Kimberly
Lambrinos, John
Li, Wei
MacDougall, Andrew
McCulley, Rebecca
Melbourne, Brett
Mitchell, Charles
Moore, Joslin
Morgan, John
Mortensen, Brent
Orrock, John
Prober, Suzanne
Pyke, David
Risch, Anita
Schuetz, Martin
Smith, Melinda
Stevens, Carly
Sullivan, Lauren
Wang, Gang
Wragg, Peter
Wright, Justin
Yang, Louie
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Abstract

For more than 30 years, the relationship between net primary productivity and species richness has generated intense debate in ecology about the processes regulating local diversity. The original view, which is still widely accepted, holds that the relationship is hump-shaped, with richness first rising and then declining with increasing productivity. Although recent meta-analyses questioned the generality of hump-shaped patterns, these syntheses have been criticized for failing to account for methodological differences among studies. We addressed such concerns by conducting standardized sampling in 48 herbaceous-dominated plant communities on five continents. We found no clear relationship between productivity and fine-scale (meters−2) richness within sites, within regions, or across the globe. Ecologists should focus on fresh, mechanistic approaches to understanding the multivariate links between productivity and richness.

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<p>This article is from <em>Science</em> 333, no. 6050 (2011): 1750–1753, doi:<a href="http://dx.doi.org/10.1126/science.1204498" target="_blank">10.1126/science.1204498</a>.</p>
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