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Science. 2015 Jul 17;349(6245):302-5. doi: 10.1126/science.aab3916.

Plant ecology. Worldwide evidence of a unimodal relationship between productivity and plant species richness.

Author information

1
Department of Natural Resource Sciences, Thompson Rivers University, Kamloops, BC, Canada. lfraser@tru.ca.
2
Department of Biology, University of British Columbia, Okanagan campus, Kelowna, BC, Canada.
3
Department of Disturbance Ecology, BayCEER, Uni- versity of Bayreuth, Bayreuth, Germany.
4
Department of Molecular Biology and Ecology of Plants, Tel Aviv University, Tel-Aviv, Israel.
5
Department of Botany, Institute of Ecology and Earth Sciences, University of Tartu, Tartu, Estonia.
6
Faculty of Natural Resources College of Agriculture and Natural Resources, University of Tehran, Iran.
7
MTA Centre for Ecological Research, Institute of Ecology and Botany, Vácrátót, Hungary, and School of Plant Biology, University of Western Australia, Crawley, Australia.
8
Department of Biogeography, BayCEER, University of Bayreuth, Bayreuth, Germany.
9
Department of Biological Sciences, University of Alberta, Edmonton, AB, Canada.
10
Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology, University of Kansas, Manhattan, KS 66047, USA.
11
Department of Biology, National University of Mongolia, Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia.
12
Department of Botany, Universidade Federal do Rio Grande do Sul, Porto Alegre, Brazil.
13
Department of Agricultural, Food and Nutritional Sciences, University of Alberta, Edmonton, AB, Canada.
14
Applied Behavioural Ecology and Ecosystem Research Unit, University of South Africa, Johannesberg, South Africa.
15
Instituto Multidisciplinario de Biología Vegetal (IMBIV-CONICET) and Facultad de Ciencias Exactas, Físicas y Naturales, Universidad Nacional de Córdoba, Córdoba, España.
16
School of Biosciences and Veterinary Medicine, University of Camerino, Camerino, Italy.
17
School of Natural Sciences, Trinity College Dublin, Dublin, Ireland.
18
Departamento de Botânica, UNESP - Univ. Estadual Paulista, Rio Claro, Brazil.
19
Department of Biology, Syracuse University, Syracuse, NY 13210, USA.
20
Department of Biology, University of Akron, Akron, OH 44325, USA.
21
Department of Zoology and Physiology, University of Wyoming, Laramie, WY 82071, USA.
22
Department of Biology, University of Western Ontario, London, ON, Canada.
23
Department of Botany, Corvinus University of Budapest, Budapest, Hungary.
24
Department of Natural Resources, Islamic Azad University, Nour Branch, Iran.
25
Department of Botany, University of Otago, Dunedin, New Zealand.
26
International Centre for Tibetan Plateau Ecosystem Management, Lanzhou University, Lanzhou, China.
27
Institute of Plant Sciences, University of Bern, Altenbergrain 21, CH-3013, Bern, Switzerland.
28
Department of Ecology, Universidade Federal do Rio Grande do Sul, Porto Alegre, Brazil.
29
Faculty of Agronomy, Universidade Federal do Rio Grande do Sul, Porto Alegre, Brazil.
30
Department of Range and Watershed Management, Ferdowsi University of Mashhad, Iran.
31
Department of Biology, University of Florida, Gainesville, FL 32611, USA.
32
Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology, Princeton University, Princeton, NJ 08544, USA.
33
Department of Natural Resource Sciences, Thompson Rivers University, Kamloops, BC, Canada.
34
Laboratory of Plant Ecology, Hirosaki University, Hirosaki, Japan.
35
Institute of Plant Production, Szent István University, Gödöllő, Hungary.
36
Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada, Lethbridge Research Centre, Lethbridge, AB, Canada.
37
Department of Plant Science, University of Pretoria, Pretoria, South Africa.
38
Faculty of Science and Technology, Free University of Bozen-Bolzano, Bolzano, Italy.
39
Department of Botany, University of Otago, Dunedin, New Zealand. Landcare Research, Dunedin, New Zealand.

Abstract

The search for predictions of species diversity across environmental gradients has challenged ecologists for decades. The humped-back model (HBM) suggests that plant diversity peaks at intermediate productivity; at low productivity few species can tolerate the environmental stresses, and at high productivity a few highly competitive species dominate. Over time the HBM has become increasingly controversial, and recent studies claim to have refuted it. Here, by using data from coordinated surveys conducted throughout grasslands worldwide and comprising a wide range of site productivities, we provide evidence in support of the HBM pattern at both global and regional extents. The relationships described here provide a foundation for further research into the local, landscape, and historical factors that maintain biodiversity.

PMID:
26185249
DOI:
10.1126/science.aab3916
[Indexed for MEDLINE]
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