University of Oulu

Walde, M., Allan, E., Cappelli, S. L., Didion-Gency, M., Gessler, A., Lehmann, M. M., Pichon, N. A., & Grossiord, C. (2021). Both diversity and functional composition affect productivity and water use efficiency in experimental temperate grasslands. Journal of Ecology, 109, 3877– 3891.

Both diversity and functional composition affect productivity and water use efficiency in experimental temperate grasslands

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Author: Walde, Manuel1; Allan, Eric2,3; Cappelli, Seraina L.2,4;
Organizations: 1Ecosystem Ecology, Forest Dynamics, Swiss Federal Institute for Forest, Snow and Landscape Research WSL, Birmensdorf, Switzerland
2Institute of Plant Sciences, University of Bern, Bern, Switzerland
3Centre for Development and the Environment, University of Bern, Bern, Switzerland
4Organismal and Evolutionary Biology Research Programme, Faculty of Biological and Environmental Sciences, University of Helsinki, Helsinki, Finland
5Institute of Terrestrial Ecosystems, ETH Zurich, Zurich, Switzerland
6Department of Ecology and Genetics, University of Oulu, Oulu, Finland
7Ecology Research Laboratory PERL, School of Architecture, Civil and Environmental Engineering, EPFL, Lausanne, Switzerland
8Functional Plant Ecology, Community Ecology Unit, Swiss Federal Institute for Forest, Snow, and Landscape Research WSL, Lausanne, Switzerland
Format: article
Version: published version
Access: open
Online Access: PDF Full Text (PDF, 1.3 MB)
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Language: English
Published: John Wiley & Sons, 2021
Publish Date: 2021-12-09


1. Many experiments have shown that biodiversity promotes ecosystem functioning and stability and that this relationship varies with resource availability. However, we still have a poor understanding of the underlying physiological and ecological mechanisms driving diversity effects and how they may interact with soil nutrient availability.

2. We collected data in a grassland experiment factorially manipulating fertilization, species richness (SR), functional composition (slow-growing vs. fast-growing species) and functional diversity in resource economic traits. We measured above-ground productivity (AP), nitrogen (N) uptake, photosynthesis and water use efficiency by combining a ¹⁵N labelling approach with productivity, gas exchange and stable isotope measurements in 3 years differing in rainfall.

3. We found that sown SR increased AP, N uptake and photosynthesis, suggesting that SR is the most important driver of ecosystem productivity and nutrient cycling. Similarly, photosynthesis was affected by functional composition but not by functional diversity. Water use efficiency was reduced by sown SR for communities dominated by slow-growing species but not for communities dominated by fast-growing species. Fertilization increased productivity, N uptake and water use efficiency. The positive effects of high SR on ecosystem functions were independent of fertility levels.

4. Synthesis. Our results provide evidence that high species richness in temperate grasslands could enhance productivity and reduce the negative impacts of drought events. Multiple factors and community characteristics are important in driving enhanced ecosystem functioning in biodiverse grasslands and seem to affect functioning and stability through different mechanisms.

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Series: Journal of ecology
ISSN: 0022-0477
ISSN-E: 1365-2745
ISSN-L: 0022-0477
Volume: 109
Issue: 11
Pages: 3877 - 3891
DOI: 10.1111/1365-2745.13765
Type of Publication: A1 Journal article – refereed
Field of Science: 1181 Ecology, evolutionary biology
Funding: This study was funded by the Swiss National Science Foundation SNF (PZ00P3_174068 to C.G. and M.D.-G., and PZ00P2_179978 to M.M.L.). C.G. is supported by the Sandoz Family Foundation.
Copyright information: © 2021 The Authors. Journal of Ecology published by John Wiley & Sons Ltd on behalf of British Ecological Society. This is an open access article under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs License, which permits use and distribution in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited, the use is non-commercial and no modifications or adaptations are made.