Biodiversity and ecosystem functioning relations in European forests depend on environmental context

Sophia Ratcliffe, Christian Wirth, Tommaso Jucker, Fons van der Plas, Michael Scherer-Lorenzen, Kris Verheyen, Eric Allan, Raquel Benavides, Helge Bruelheide, Bettina Ohse, Alain Paquette, Evy Ampoorter, Cristina Crespo, Juergen Bauhus, Damien Bonal, Olivier Bouriaud, Filippo Bussotti, Monique Carnol, Bastien Castagneyrol, Ewa CheckoSeid Dawud, Hans de Wandeler, Timo Domisch, Leena Finer, Markus Fischer, Mariangella Fotelli, Arthur Gessler, Andre Granier, Charlotte Grossiord, Virginie Guyot, Josephine Haase, Stephan Hattenschwiler, Herve Jactel, Bogdan Jaroszewicz, Francois-Xavier Joly, Stephen Kambach, Simon Kolb, Julia Koricheva, Mario Liebergesell, Harriet Milligan, Sandra Muller, Bart Muys, Diem Nguyen, Charles Nock, Martina Pollastrini, Oliver Purschke, Kalliopi Radoglou, Karsten Raulund‐Rasmussen, Fabian Roger, Paloma Ruiz-Benito, Rupert Seidl, Federico Selvi, Ian Seiferling, Jan Stenlid, Fernando Valladares, Lars Vesterdal, Lander Baeten

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The importance of biodiversity in supporting ecosystem functioning is generally well accepted. However, most evidence comes from small-scale studies, and scaling-up patterns of biodiversity–ecosystem functioning (B-EF) remains challenging, in part because the importance of environmental factors in shaping B-EF relations is poorly understood. Using a forest research platform in which 26 ecosystem functions were measured along gradients of tree species richness in six regions across Europe, we investigated the extent and the potential drivers of context dependency of B-EF relations. Despite considerable variation in species richness effects across the continent, we found a tendency for stronger B-EF relations in drier climates as well as in areas with longer growing seasons and more functionally diverse tree species. The importance of water availability in driving context dependency suggests that as water limitation increases under climate change, biodiversity may become even more important to support high levels of functioning in European forests.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1414–1426
Number of pages13
JournalEcology Letters
Issue number11
Early online date18 Sept 2017
Publication statusPublished - Nov 2017

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