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Productivity is a poor predictor of plant species richness

November 9, 2011

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.

Publication Year 2011
Title Productivity is a poor predictor of plant species richness
DOI 10.1126/science.1204498
Authors Peter B. Adler, Eric W. Seabloom, Elizabeth T. Borer, Helmut Hillebrand, Yann Hautier, Andy Hector, W. Stanley Harpole, Lydia R. O'Halloran, James B. Grace, T. Michael Anderson, Jonathan D. Bakker, Lori A. Biederman, Cynthia S. Brown, Yvonne M. Buckley, Laura B. Calabrese, Cheng-Jin Chu, Elsa E. Cleland, Scott L. Collins, Kathryn L. Cottingham, Michael J. Crawley, Ellen Ingman Damschen, Kendi F. Davies, Nicole M. DeCrappeo, Philip A. Fay, Jennifer Firn, Paul Frater, Eve I. Gasarch, Daneil S. Gruner, Nicole Hagenah, Janneke Hille Ris Lambers, Hope Humphries, Virginia L. Jin, Adam D. Kay, Kevin P. Kirkman, Julia A. Klein, Johannes M.H. Knops, Kimberly J. La Pierre, John G. Lambrinos, Wei Li, Andrew S. MacDougall, Rebecca L. McCulley, Brett A. Melbourne, Charles E. Mitchell, Joslin L. Moore, John W. Morgan, Brent Mortensen, John L. Orrock, Suzanne M. Prober, David A. Pyke, Anita C. Risch, Martin Schuetz, Melinda D. Smith, Carly J. Stevens, Lauren L. Sullivan, Gang Wang, Peter D. Wragg, Justin P. Wright, Louie H. Yang
Publication Type Article
Publication Subtype Journal Article
Series Title Science
Index ID 70005513
Record Source USGS Publications Warehouse
USGS Organization Forest and Rangeland Ecosystem Science Center; National Wetlands Research Center