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Conservation Science for a Healthy Planet

Higher plant diversity may not be enough to protect ecosystems from the worst impacts of climate extremes

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November 28, 2017 British Ecological Society (BES) read full ScienceDaily article here

Studies on mild fluctuations in weather have provided support for the idea that higher biodiversity results in more stable functioning of ecosystems, but critical appraisal of the evidence from extreme event studies is lacking.

Higher plant species richness is not always sufficient to reduce ecosystem vulnerability to climate extremes, as shown in a comprehensive literature analysis published in the Journal of Ecology.

While biodiversity is under threat around the globe, the number of extreme weather events is on the rise as a direct consequence of climate change…Available evidence from herbaceous systems indicates mixed effects of species richness on biomass stability to extremely wet and dry events.

…Biodiversity may still be important [in reducing dire impacts of climate change], as it has been shown to speed up recovery of plant productivity after an extreme event…the cause of biodiversity decline may confound biodiversity-stability effects….species richness may not be the most relevant indicator of ‘biodiversity’ when studying biodiversity-stability relationships….

De Boeck HJ, Bloor JMG, Kreyling J, et al. Patterns and drivers of biodiversity-stability relationships under climate extremes. J Ecol., 2017;00:1%u201313 DOI: 10.1111/1365-2745.12897

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