Shared Prosperity

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Science  14 Mar 2008:
Vol. 319, Issue 5869, pp. 1461
DOI: 10.1126/science.319.5869.1461a

The relationships between biodiversity and ecosystem function (such as productivity and nutrient dynamics) have mostly been investigated with tractable ecological communities such as herbaceous vegetation. Now Potvin and Gotelli have extended such studies to simple tree communities, with an experiment on the effects of tree species diversity on yield, measured by growth in tree basal area. In a forest plantation in Panama, plots in which several species of tree seedlings were planted yielded 30 to 58 more growth than monocultures after 5 years. The increased yield resulted from increased growth in the mixed-species plots rather than from mortality in the monocultures. The authors speculate that competition for light is greater in monocultures, implying that more effective partitioning of resources permits more biomass accumulation in the mixed-species plots. AMS

Ecol. Lett. 11, 217 (2008).

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