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



Ratcliffe S, Wirth C, Jucker T, van der Plas F, Scherer-Lorenzen M, Verheyen K, Allan E, Benavides R, Bruelheide H, Ohse B, Paquette A, Ampoorter E, Bastias CC, Bauhus J & Joly F (2017) Biodiversity and ecosystem functioning relations in European forests depend on environmental context. Ecology Letters, 20 (11), pp. 1414-1426.

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.

Functional diversity; FunDivEUROPE; growing season length; multifunctionality; resource heterogeneity; species richness; water availability

Additional co-authors: Damien Bonal, Olivier Bouriaud, Filippo Bussotti, Monique Carnol, Bastien Castagneyrol, Ewa Chećko, Seid Muhie Dawud, Hans De Wandeler, Timo Domisch, Leena Finér, Markus Fischer, Mariangela Fotelli, Arthur Gessler, André Granier, Charlotte Grossiord, Virginie Guyot, Josephine Haase, Stephan Hättenschwiler, Hervé Jactel, Bogdan Jaroszewicz, Stephan Kambach, Simon Kolb, Julia Koricheva, Mario Liebersgesell, Harriet Milligan, Sandra Müller, 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

Ecology Letters: Volume 20, Issue 11

Publication date30/11/2017
Publication date online18/09/2017
Date accepted by journal13/08/2017

People (1)


Dr Francois-Xavier Joly

Dr Francois-Xavier Joly

Lecturer in Soil, Biological and Environmental Sciences