A direct comparison of the consequences of plant genotypic and species diversity on communities and ecosystem function
Cook-Patton, Susan C.; McArt, Scott H.; Parachnowitsch, Amy L.; Thaler, Jennifer S.; Agrawal, Anurag A.
Biodiversity loss is proceeding at an unprecedented rate, yet we lack a thorough understanding of the consequences of losing diversity at different scales. While species diversity is known to impact community and ecosystem processes, genotypic diversity is assumed to have relatively smaller effects. Nonetheless, a few recent studies suggest that genotypic diversity may have quantitatively similar ecological consequences compared to species diversity. Here we show that increasing either genotypic diversity of common evening primrose (Oenothera biennis) or species diversity of old?field plant species resulted in nearly equivalent increases (?17%) in aboveground primary production. The predominant mechanism explaining this effect, niche complementarity, was similar for each type of diversity. Arthropod species richness also increased with both types of plant diversity, but the mechanisms leading to this effect differed: abundance?driven accumulation of arthropod species was important in plant genotypic polycultures, whereas resource specialization was important in plant species polycultures. Thus, similar increases in primary productivity differentially impacted higher trophic levels in response to each type of plant diversity. These results highlight important ecological similarities and differences between genotypic and species diversity and suggest that genotypic diversity may play a larger role in community and ecosystem processes than previously realized.
The NSF (DEB- 0950231 to A. A. Agrawal and IGERT small grant in Biogeochemistry and Environmental Biocomplexity to S. H. McArt, S. C. Cook-Patton, and A. L. Parachnowitsch) and USDA-NRI (2006-35302-17431 to J. S. Thaler) supported this work
Ecological Society of America
arthropods; biodiversity; common evening primrose; community genetics; eastern North America; ecosystem function; Oenothera biennis; old fields
Cook-Patton, S. C., McArt, S. H., Parachnowitsch, A. L., Thaler, J. S., & Agrawal, A. A. (2011). A direct comparison of the consequences of plant genotypic and species diversity on communities and ecosystem function. Ecology, 92(4), 915–923.