Biodiversity Promotes Grassland Survival During Climate Extremes

By on October 16, 2015

Although researchers have long known that biodiversity tends to stabilize plant productivity over time, it wasn’t clear if the stabilizing effect occurred during extreme weather events or after. A study from the University of Minnesota reveals the answer at last, according to a release: Biodiversity provides resistance during extreme events, which acts as a productivity stabilizer.

Researchers compiled results from 46 grassland study sites and used a five-point scale to express the spectrum from extremely dry to extremely wet. These rankings were compared to the amount of above-ground plant material produced by the grasslands, i.e. productivity, at different biodiversity levels.

Scientists found that grassland plots having only one or two species experienced a 50 percent change, whereas the plots with 16 to 32 species experienced a 25 percent change. Researchers expected that grassland plots with more biodiversity would show more resistance to climate change and less of a decrease in productivity during extreme events, but results showed that resistance, not resilience, was the primary mechanism that stabilized grassland productivity in extreme times.

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