University of Oulu

Wilcox, K. R., Tredennick, A. T., Koerner, S. E., Grman, E., Hallett, L. M., Avolio, M. L., La Pierre, K. J., Houseman, G. R., Isbell, F., Johnson, D. S., Alatalo, J. M., Baldwin, A. H., Bork, E. W., Boughton, E. H., Bowman, W. D., Britton, A. J., Cahill, J. F., Collins, S. L., Du, G., Eskelinen, A., Gough, L., Jentsch, A., Kern, C., Klanderud, K., Knapp, A. K., Kreyling, J., Luo, Y., McLaren, J. R., Megonigal, P., Onipchenko, V., Prevéy, J., Price, J. N., Robinson, C. H., Sala, O. E., Smith, M. D., Soudzilovskaia, N. A., Souza, L., Tilman, D., White, S. R., Xu, Z., Yahdjian, L., Yu, Q., Zhang, P. and Zhang, Y. (2017), Asynchrony among local communities stabilises ecosystem function of metacommunities. Ecol Lett, 20: 1534–1545. doi:10.1111/ele.12861

Asynchrony among local communities stabilises ecosystem function of metacommunities

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Author: Wilcox, Kevin R.1; Tredennick, Andrew T.2,3; Koerner, Sally E.4;
Organizations: 1Univ Oklahoma, Dept Microbiol & Plant Biol, 770 Van Vleet Oval, Norman, OK 73019 USA
2Utah State Univ, Dept Wildland Resources, 5230 Old Main Hill, Logan, UT 84321 USA
3Utah State Univ, Ctr Ecol, 5230 Old Main Hill, Logan, UT 84321 USA
4Univ North Carolina Greensboro, Dept Biol, Greensboro, NC 27412 USA
5Eastern Michigan Univ, Dept Biol, 441 Mark Jefferson Sci Complex, Ypsilanti, MI 48197 USA
6Univ Oregon, Environm Studies Program, Eugene, OR 97403 USA
7Univ Oregon, Dept Biol, Eugene, OR 97403 USA
8Johns Hopkins Univ, Morton K Blaustein Dept Earth & Planetary Sci, 301 Olin Hall 3400 N Charles St, Baltimore, MD 21218 USA
9Smithsonian Environm Res Ctr, 647 Contees Wharf Rd, Edgewater, MD 21037 USA
10Wichita State Univ, Dept Biol Sci, Wichita, KS 67260 USA
11Univ Minnesota, Dept Ecol Evolut & Behav, St Paul, MN 55108 USA
12Virginia Inst Marine Sci, Gloucester Point, VA 23062 USA
13Qatar Univ, Dept Biol & Environm Sci, Doha, Qatar
14Univ Maryland, Dept Environm Sci & Technol, College Pk, MD 20742 USA
15Univ Alberta, Agr Forestry Ctr, Edmonton, AB T6G 2P5, Canada
16MacArthur Agroecol Res Ctr, Archbold Biol Stn, 300 Buck Isl Ranch Rd, Lake Placid, FL 33852 USA
17Univ Colorado, Dept Ecol & Evolut Biol, Boulder, CO 80309 USA
18Univ Colorado, Mt Res Stn, Boulder, CO 80309 USA
19James Hutton Inst, Aberdeen AB15 8QH, Scotland
20Univ Alberta, Dept Biol Sci, Edmonton, AB T6G 2E9, Canada
21Univ New Mexico, Dept Biol, Albuquerque, NM 87131 USA
22Lanzhou Univ, Sch Life Sci, Lanzhou, Gansu, Peoples R China
23UFZ, Helmholtz Ctr Environm Res, Dept Physiol Divers, Permoserstr 15, D-04318 Leipzig, Germany
24German Ctr Integrat Biodivers Res iDiv, Deutsch Pl 5e, D-04103 Leipzig, Germany
25Univ Oulu, Dept Ecol, POB 3000, FI-90014 Oulu, Finland
26Towson Univ, Dept Biol Sci, Towson, MD 21252 USA
27Univ Bayreuth, Dept Disturbance Ecol, D-95440 Bayreuth, Germany
28US Forest Serv, Northern Res Stn, 5985 Highway K, Rhinelander, WI 54501 USA
29Norwegian Univ Life Sci, Fac Environm Sci & Nat Resource Management, POB 5003, NO-1432 As, Norway
30Colorado State Univ, Dept Biol, Grad Degree Program Ecol, Ft Collins, CO 80523 USA
31Greifswald Univ, Inst Bot & Landscape Ecol, Expt Plant Ecol, Soldmannstr 15, D-17487 Greifswald, Germany
32No Arizona Univ, Dept Biol Sci, Ctr Ecosyst Sci & Soc Ecoss, Flagstaff, AZ 86011 USA
33Tsinghua Univ, Dept Earth Syst Sci, Beijing, Peoples R China
34Univ Texas El Paso, Dept Biol Sci, El Paso, TX 79968 USA
35Smithsonian Environm Res Ctr, Edgewater, MD 20754 USA
36Moscow State Lomonosov Univ, Dept Geobotany, Leninskiegory 1-12, Moscow 119234, Russia
37USFS, Pacific Northwest Res Stn, 3625 93rd Ave SW, Olympia, WA 98512 USA
38Charles Sturt Univ, Inst Land, Water & Soc, Albury, NSW 2640, Australia
39Univ Manchester, Sch Earth & Environm Sci, Williamson Bldg,Oxford Rd, Manchester M13 9PL, Lancs, England
40Arizona State Univ, Sch Life Sci, Tempe, AZ 85287 USA
41Arizona State Univ, Sch Sustainabil, Tempe, AZ 85287 USA
42Leiden Univ, Inst Environm Sci, CML, Conservat Biol Dept, Einsteinweg 2, NL-2333 CC Leiden, Netherlands
43Univ Oklahoma, Oklahoma Biol Survey, Norman, OK 73019 USA
44Univ Minnesota, Coll Biol Sci, Dept Ecol Evolut & Behav, St Paul, MN 55108 USA
45Govt Alberta, Environm & Pk, Edmonton, AB T5K 2M4, Canada
46Chinese Acad Sci, Inst Appl Ecol, Shenyang 110016, Liaoning, Peoples R China
47Univ Buenos Aires, Inst Invest Fisiol & Ecol Vinculadas Agr IFEVA, Fac Agron, Consejo Nacl Invest Cient & Tecn, Buenos Aires, DF, Argentina
48Chinese Acad Agr Sci, Natl Hulunber Grassland Ecosyst Observ & Res Stn, Inst Agr Resources & Reg Planning, Beijing 100081, Peoples R China
49Chinese Acad Sci, Inst Bot, State Key Lab Vegetat & Environm Change, Beijing 100093, Peoples R China
50Aarhus Univ, Dept Agroecol, Blichers Alle 20, DK-8830 Tjele, Denmark
Format: article
Version: published version
Access: open
Online Access: PDF Full Text (PDF, 1.1 MB)
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Language: English
Published: John Wiley & Sons, 2017
Publish Date: 2018-01-02


Temporal stability of ecosystem functioning increases the predictability and reliability of ecosystem services, and understanding the drivers of stability across spatial scales is important for land management and policy decisions. We used species-level abundance data from 62 plant communities across five continents to assess mechanisms of temporal stability across spatial scales. We assessed how asynchrony (i.e. different units responding dissimilarly through time) of species and local communities stabilised metacommunity ecosystem function. Asynchrony of species increased stability of local communities, and asynchrony among local communities enhanced metacommunity stability by a wide range of magnitudes (1–315%); this range was positively correlated with the size of the metacommunity. Additionally, asynchronous responses among local communities were linked with species’ populations fluctuating asynchronously across space, perhaps stemming from physical and/or competitive differences among local communities. Accordingly, we suggest spatial heterogeneity should be a major focus for maintaining the stability of ecosystem services at larger spatial scales.

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Series: Ecology letters
ISSN: 1461-023X
ISSN-E: 1461-0248
ISSN-L: 1461-023X
Volume: 20
Issue: 12
Pages: 1534 - 1545
DOI: 10.1111/ele.12861
Type of Publication: A1 Journal article – refereed
Field of Science: 1181 Ecology, evolutionary biology
Funding: We thank the Long Term Ecological Research Network Communications Office for funding the initial working group responsible for compiling the CORRE database, and the various funding agencies and data collection/processing personnel that made individual studies possible, including but not limited to: Jornada Basin Long-Term Ecological Research (LTER) (NSF DEB-1235828), ARC LTER RSF (#16-14-10208), Cedar Creek LTER, Konza Prairie LTER, the Macarthur Agro-Ecological Research Center, Niwot LTER, Plum Island Estuary, Sevilleta LTER. Data from the Smithsonian Global Change Research Wetland as supported by the DOE-TES program (award DE-SC0008339), the NSF-LTREB program (awards DEB-0950080 and DEB-1457100), and the Smithsonian Environmental Research Center. VO thanks RSF (#16-14-10208) for financial support; CHR thanks the Global Atmospheric Nitrogen Environment (GANE) thematic programme of the UK Natural Environmental Research Council (GST022701); ATT was supported by an NSF Postdoctoral Research Fellowship in Biology (DBI-1400370); and KRW was supported by the Experimental Drought in Grasslands Experiment (EF-1137293).
Dataset Reference: R code and derived data for all analyses are available on Figshare ( See for inquiries concerning raw data.
Copyright information: © 2017 The Authors. Ecology Letters published by CNRS and John Wiley & Sons Ltd. This is an open access article under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits use, distribution and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.