Species richness effects on grassland recovery from drought depend on community productivity in a multisite experiment

Juergen Kreyling, Jürgen Dengler, Julia Walter, Nikolay Velev, Emin Ugurlu, Desislava Sopotlieva, Johannes Ransijn, Catherine Picon-Cochard, Ivan Nijs, Pauline Hernandez, Behlül Güler, Philipp von Gillhaussen, Hans J. De Boeck, Juliette M.G. Bloor, Sigi Berwaers, Carl Beierkuhnlein, Mohammed A.S. Arfin Khan, Iva Apostolova, Yasin Altan, Michaela ZeiterCamilla Wellstein, Marcelo Sternberg, Andreas Stampfli, Giandiego Campetella, Sándor Bartha, Michael Bahn, Anke Jentsch

    Research output: Contribution to journalLetterpeer-review

    63 Citations (Scopus)


    Biodiversity can buffer ecosystem functioning against extreme climatic events, but few experiments have explicitly tested this. Here, we present the first multisite biodiversity × drought manipulation experiment to examine drought resistance and recovery at five temperate and Mediterranean grassland sites. Aboveground biomass production declined by 30% due to experimental drought (standardised local extremity by rainfall exclusion for 72–98 consecutive days). Species richness did not affect resistance but promoted recovery. Recovery was only positively affected by species richness in low-productive communities, with most diverse communities even showing overcompensation. This positive diversity effect could be linked to asynchrony of species responses. Our results suggest that a more context-dependent view considering the nature of the climatic disturbance as well as the productivity of the studied system will help identify under which circumstances biodiversity promotes drought resistance or recovery. Stability of biomass production can generally be expected to decrease with biodiversity loss and climate change.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)1405-1413
    Number of pages9
    JournalEcology Letters
    Issue number11
    Publication statusPublished - 1 Nov 2017


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