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The influence of balanced and imbalanced resource supply on biodiversity–functioning relationship across ecosystems

Aleksandra M Lewandowska, Antje Biermann, Elizabeth T Borer, Miguel A Cebrián-Piqueras, Steven AJ Declerck, Luc De Meester, Ellen Van Donk, Lars Gamfeldt, Daniel S Gruner, Nicole Hagenah, W Stanley Harpole, Kevin P Kirkman, Christopher A Klausmeier, Michael Kleyer, Johannes MH Knops, Pieter Lemmens, Eric M Lind, Elena Litchman, Jasmin Mantilla-Contreras, Koen Martens, Sandra Meier, Vanessa Minden, Joslin L Moore, Harry Olde Venterink, Eric W Seabloom, Ulrich Sommer, Maren Striebel, Anastasia Trenkamp, Juliane Trinogga, Jotaro Urabe, Wim Vyverman, Dedmer B Van de Waal, Claire E Widdicombe, Helmut Hillebrand
Numerous studies show that increasing species richness leads to higher ecosystem productivity. This effect is often attributed to more efficient portioning of multiple resources in communities with higher numbers of competing species, indicating the role of resource supply and stoichiometry for biodiversity–ecosystem functioning relationships. Here, we merged theory on ecological stoichiometry with a framework of biodiversity–ecosystem functioning to understand how resource use transfers into primary production. We applied a structural equation model to define patterns of diversity–productivity relationships with respect to available resources. Meta-analysis was used to summarize the findings across ecosystem types ranging from aquatic ecosystems to grasslands and forests. As hypothesized, resource supply increased realized productivity and richness, but we found significant differences between ecosystems and study types. Increased richness was associated with increased productivity, although this effect was not seen in experiments. More even communities had lower productivity, indicating that biomass production is often maintained by a few dominant species, and reduced dominance generally reduced ecosystem productivity. This synthesis, which integrates observational and experimental studies in a variety of ecosystems and geographical regions, exposes common patterns and differences in biodiversity–functioning relationships, and increases the mechanistic understanding of changes in ecosystems productivity.