Nav: Home

Diversity increases ecosystem stability

September 05, 2019

Forests with a large variety of species are more productive and stable under stress than monocultures: scientists from the University of Freiburg have confirmed this with data from the world's oldest field trial on the diversity of tropical tree species. The team around PhD student Florian Schnabel has published its results in the journal Global Change Biology.

As the researchers state, there is increasing scientific evidence of positive relationships between the diversity of tree species and ecosystem functioning. However most studies on this relationship to date have used either data from forests where the influence of biodiversity cannot be separated from other factors, or from young planted experiments, which do not provide data on longer periods of time. Therefore, the Freiburg research team analyzed data from the Sardinilla experiment which was planted in Panama in 2001. This experiment covers 22 plots planted with one, two, three or five native tree species. Since these grow at different rates, the plots with a greater variety of species also have a greater structural diversity with regard to the height and diameter of the trees. Annual data on the size and height of the trees, which are seen as indicators of the productivity and stability of the ecosystem, come from the period 2006 to 2016.

The study concludes that mixtures of two and three tree species have on average a 25 to 30 per cent higher productivity than monocultures, and those with five species even 50 percent higher. The differences during a severe dry period caused by the tropical climate phenomenon El Niño were especially pronounced. This indicates that forests with a greater diversity of tree species are not only more productive, but also more stable and resilient under drought stress - the researchers believe this is a particularly important finding in view of global climate change. In the context of initiatives that aim to reduce atmospheric CO2 with extensive reforestation, these results indicate that to store the same amount of CO2 in biomass, far less space is needed with mixed-species forests.

According to the team, these results offer new insights into the dynamics of tropical plantation forests and emphasize the importance of analyses that cover a longer development period, since they contribute to a better understanding of the connections between the diversity, productivity and stability of ecosystems. The study is based on Florian Schnabel's master thesis, for which he will be receiving the Hansjürg-Steinlin prize, a University of Freiburg award for new talent, in October at the start of the 2019/20 academic year. Florian Schnabel is now a PhD student involved in the TreeDì project at the German Centre for Integrative Biodiversity Research (iDiv) in Leipzig.
-end-
Original publication:

Schnabel, F./Schwarz, J./D?nescu, A./Fichtner, A./Nock, C./Bauhus, J./ Potvin, C. (2019): Drivers of productivity and its temporal stability in a tropical tree diversity experiment. In: Global Change Biology. doi: 10.1111/gcb.14792

University of Freiburg

Related Diversity Articles:

Genetic diversity facilitates cancer therapy
Cancer patients with more different HLA genes respond better to treatment.
A new ranavirus threatens US amphibian diversity
In a study published in the Oct. 15 issue of Ecological Modelling, a team of University of Tennessee researchers along with a colleague from the University of Florida model how a chimeric Frog virus 3 (FV3)-like ranavirus, also known as RCV-Z2, can spread rapidly throughout a population of North American wood frog (Lithobates sylvaticus) tadpoles.
New way to target cancer's diversity and evolution
Scientists have revealed close-up details of a vital molecule involved in the mix and match of genetic information within cells -- opening up the potential to target proteins of this family to combat cancer's diversity and evolution.
Heterogeneity in the workplace: 'Diversity is very important to us -- but not in my team'
Diversity in the workplace is highly sought in theory, but often still lacking in practice.
Diversity increases ecosystem stability
Freiburg's forestry scientists prove that forests that are more diverse are also more productive and more resilient
Diversity on teams leads to positive outcomes, but not for all
Individuals on teams of diverse people working together can have better outcomes than those on teams with similar individuals, research as shown.
Good medicine depends on diversity
Nearly 80 percent who have contributed DNA for research are of European ancestry.
How can organizations promote and benefit from socioeconomic diversity?
A new white paper has been published by the Society for Industrial and Organizational Psychology.
Back to the sources of neural diversity
The diversity of the tasks the cortex can perform is reflected in the diversity of the neurons that compose it.
Plant diversity increases insect diversity
The more plant species live in grasslands and forests, the more insect species find a habitat there.
More Diversity News and Diversity Current Events

Top Science Podcasts

We have hand picked the top science podcasts of 2019.
Now Playing: TED Radio Hour

Risk
Why do we revere risk-takers, even when their actions terrify us? Why are some better at taking risks than others? This hour, TED speakers explore the alluring, dangerous, and calculated sides of risk. Guests include professional rock climber Alex Honnold, economist Mariana Mazzucato, psychology researcher Kashfia Rahman, structural engineer and bridge designer Ian Firth, and risk intelligence expert Dylan Evans.
Now Playing: Science for the People

#541 Wayfinding
These days when we want to know where we are or how to get where we want to go, most of us will pull out a smart phone with a built-in GPS and map app. Some of us old timers might still use an old school paper map from time to time. But we didn't always used to lean so heavily on maps and technology, and in some remote places of the world some people still navigate and wayfind their way without the aid of these tools... and in some cases do better without them. This week, host Rachelle Saunders...
Now Playing: Radiolab

Dolly Parton's America: Neon Moss
Today on Radiolab, we're bringing you the fourth episode of Jad's special series, Dolly Parton's America. In this episode, Jad goes back up the mountain to visit Dolly's actual Tennessee mountain home, where she tells stories about her first trips out of the holler. Back on the mountaintop, standing under the rain by the Little Pigeon River, the trip triggers memories of Jad's first visit to his father's childhood home, and opens the gateway to dizzying stories of music and migration. Support Radiolab today at Radiolab.org/donate.