Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Plant diversity is key to maintaining productive vegetation

Date:
May 3, 2012
Source:
National Science Foundation
Summary:
Vegetation, such as a patch of prairie or a forest stand, is more productive in the long run when more plant species are present, results of a new study show.

NSF Cedar Creek LTER site experiments show what makes prairies and forests most productive.
Credit: David Tilman, UMN

Vegetation, such as a patch of prairie or a forest stand, is more productive in the long run when more plant species are present, results of a new study show.

The long-term study of plant biodiversity found that each species plays a role in maintaining a productive ecosystem, especially when a long time horizon is considered.

The research found that every additional species in a plot contributed to a gradual increase in both soil fertility and biomass production over a 14-year period.

This week's issue of the journal Science published the results. They highlight the importance of managing for diversity in prairies, forests and crops, according to Peter Reich, lead author of the paper and a forest ecologist at the University of Minnesota.

Reich and colleagues looked at how the effect of diversity on productivity of plants changed over the long-term.

Two large field experiments were conducted at the National Science Foundation's (NSF) Cedar Creek Long-Term Ecological Research (LTER) site in Minnesota, one of 26 such NSF LTER sites around the globe in ecosystems from forests to grasslands, tundra to coral reefs.

"This study reveals what short-term experiments have missed: that the effects of biodiversity loss on ecosystems are more complex, severe and unpredictable than previously thought," says Matt Kane, an NSF LTER program director.

"The work shows the importance of doing long-term research," says Kane, "in this case documenting for the first time the critical importance of biodiversity for ecosystem health and sustainability."

The biodiversity experiments at Cedar Creek are the longest-running such experiments in the world, says Reich.

They contain plots with one, four, nine or 16 different species of plants.

The research used long-lived prairie plants, but serves as a model system for all vegetation, whether prairie, forest or row crop.

The study also showed how diversity works by demonstrating that different species have different ways of acquiring water, nutrients and carbon--and maintaining them in an ecosystem.

"Prior shorter-term studies, most about two years long, found that diversity increased productivity, but that having more than six or eight species in a plot gave no additional benefit," Reich says.

The scientists found that over a 14-year time span, all 16 species in the most diverse plots contributed more and more each year to higher soil fertility and biomass production.

"The take-home message," says Reich, "is that when we reduce diversity in the landscape--think of a cornfield or a pine plantation or a suburban lawn--we are failing to capitalize on the valuable natural services that biodiversity provides."

Co-authors of the paper are David Tilman, Forest Isbell, Kevin Mueller, Sarah Hobbie and Nico Eisenhauer of the University of Minnesota, and Dan Flynn of the University of Zurich.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by National Science Foundation. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. P. B. Reich, D. Tilman, F. Isbell, K. Mueller, S. E. Hobbie, D. F. B. Flynn, N. Eisenhauer. Impacts of Biodiversity Loss Escalate Through Time as Redundancy Fades. Science, 2012; 336 (6081): 589 DOI: 10.1126/science.1217909

Cite This Page:

National Science Foundation. "Plant diversity is key to maintaining productive vegetation." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 3 May 2012. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/05/120503200557.htm>.
National Science Foundation. (2012, May 3). Plant diversity is key to maintaining productive vegetation. ScienceDaily. Retrieved August 28, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/05/120503200557.htm
National Science Foundation. "Plant diversity is key to maintaining productive vegetation." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/05/120503200557.htm (accessed August 28, 2014).

Share This




More Earth & Climate News

Thursday, August 28, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Big Waves, Minor Flooding from Hurricane

Big Waves, Minor Flooding from Hurricane

AP (Aug. 27, 2014) Thundering surf spawned by Hurricane Marie pounded the Southern California coast Wednesday, causing minor flooding in a low-lying beach town. High surf warnings were posted for Los Angeles County south through Orange County. (Aug. 27) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Calif. Quake Underscores Need for Early Warning

Calif. Quake Underscores Need for Early Warning

AP (Aug. 26, 2014) Researchers at UC Berkeley are testing a prototype of an earthquake early warning system that California is pursuing years after places like Mexico and Japan already have them up and running. (August 26) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Hurricane Marie Brings Big Waves to California Coast

Hurricane Marie Brings Big Waves to California Coast

Reuters - US Online Video (Aug. 26, 2014) Huge waves generated by Hurricane Marie hit the Southern California coast. Rough Cut (no reporter narration). Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
Brazil Tries Genetically Modified Mosquitoes to Fight Dengue

Brazil Tries Genetically Modified Mosquitoes to Fight Dengue

AFP (Aug. 25, 2014) A factory in the industrial state of Sao Paulo produces genetically modified mosquitoes to fight dengue, a deadly tropical disease more prevalent in Brazil than anywhere else in the world. Duration: 00:57 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:

More Coverage


Plant Diversity Is Key to Maintaining Productive Vegetation

May 3, 2012 Vegetation, such as a patch of prairie or a forest stand, is more productive in the long run when more plant species are present, a new University of Minnesota study shows. The unprecedented ... read more
from the past week

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins