Research Article

Plant Diversity and Productivity Experiments in European Grasslands

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Science  05 Nov 1999:
Vol. 286, Issue 5442, pp. 1123-1127
DOI: 10.1126/science.286.5442.1123

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At eight European field sites, the impact of loss of plant diversity on primary productivity was simulated by synthesizing grassland communities with different numbers of plant species. Results differed in detail at each location, but there was an overall log-linear reduction of average aboveground biomass with loss of species. For a given number of species, communities with fewer functional groups were less productive. These diversity effects occurred along with differences associated with species composition and geographic location. Niche complementarity and positive species interactions appear to play a role in generating diversity-productivity relationships within sites in addition to sampling from the species pool.

  • * To whom correspondence should be addressed. E-mail: a.hector01{at}

  • Present address: Department of Agriculture, The University of Reading, Earley Gate, Post Office Box 236, Reading, Berkshire, UK, GB-RG6 6AT.

  • Present address: Departamento de Botânica, Universidade de Coimbra, 3000 Coimbra, Portugal.

  • § Present address: Ecologie des Populations et Communautés, Université Paris Sud XI, URA CNRS 2154, Bâtiment 326, Orsay Cedex, France, FR-91405.

  • || Present address: Victoria University of Wellington, School of Biological Sciences, Post Office Box 600, Wellington, New Zealand.

  • Present address: Department of Environmental Resource Management, University College of Dublin, Belfield, Dublin, Ireland.

  • # Present address: Centre for Ecological Research, Kyoto University, Kyoto 606-01, Japan.

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