Plant Positivism

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Science  15 Jun 2001:
Vol. 292, Issue 5524, pp. 1967
DOI: 10.1126/science.292.5524.1967a

The relationship between species diversity and ecosystem productivity in plant communities remains a topic of intense debate. Partly at issue has been the extent to which experimentally constructed communities represent the real, complex world of plant-plant interactions. Mulder et al. have added a new element of realism to such experiments by investigating productivity-diversity relationships of the same group of plants under different environmental conditions. They constructed artificial communities of 1 to 32 species of New Zealand bryophytes (mosses and liverworts) and compared their performance under constant or variable moisture regimes. In drought conditions, biomass production increased with species richness. This result indicates that species that are “redundant” under equable conditions may interact in a complementary way when conditions become tougher. — AMS

Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. U.S.A.98, 6704 (2001).

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