Skip to main content

Thank you for visiting nature.com. You are using a browser version with limited support for CSS. To obtain the best experience, we recommend you use a more up to date browser (or turn off compatibility mode in Internet Explorer). In the meantime, to ensure continued support, we are displaying the site without styles and JavaScript.

Partitioning selection and complementarity in biodiversity experiments

An Erratum to this article was published on 04 October 2001

Abstract

The impact of biodiversity loss on the functioning of ecosystems and their ability to provide ecological services has become a central issue in ecology. Several experiments have provided evidence that reduced species diversity may impair ecosystem processes such as plant biomass production1,2,3,4,5. The interpretation of these experiments, however, has been controversial6,7,8,9,10,11,12 because two types of mechanism may operate in combination6,13,14,15. In the ‘selection effect’, dominance by species with particular traits affects ecosystem processes. In the ‘complementarity effect’, resource partitioning or positive interactions lead to increased total resource use. Here we present a new approach to separate the two effects on the basis of an additive partitioning analogous to the Price equation in evolutionary genetics16,17,18,19. Applying this method to data from the pan-European BIODEPTH experiment4 reveals that the selection effect is zero on average and varies from negative to positive in different localities, depending on whether species with lower- or higher-than-average biomass dominate communities. In contrast, the complementarity effect is positive overall, supporting the hypothesis that plant diversity influences primary production in European grasslands through niche differentiation or facilitation.

Access options

Rent or Buy article

Get time limited or full article access on ReadCube.

from$8.99

All prices are NET prices.

Figure 1: Observed yield YO and net biodiversity effect ΔY as functions of species richness across all localities in mixtures of the BIODEPTH experiment.
Figure 2: Selection effect, N cov(ΔRY, M), as a function of species richness across all localities and at individual localities.
Figure 3: Complementarity effect, N\(\overline{ΔRY}\)\(\overline{M}\), as a function of species richness across all localities and at individual localities.

References

  1. 1

    Tilman, D., Wedin, D. & Knops, J. Productivity and sustainability influenced by biodiversity in grassland ecosystems. Nature 379, 718–720 (1996).

    ADS  CAS  Article  Google Scholar 

  2. 2

    Tilman, D. et al. The influence of functional diversity and composition on ecosystem processes. Science 277, 1300–1302 (1997).

    CAS  Article  Google Scholar 

  3. 3

    van der Heijden, M. G. A. et al. Mycorrhizal fungal diversity determines plant biodiversity, ecosystem variability and productivity. Nature 396, 69–72 (1998).

    ADS  CAS  Article  Google Scholar 

  4. 4

    Hector, A. et al. Plant diversity and productivity experiments in European grasslands. Science 286, 1123–1127 (1999).

    CAS  Article  Google Scholar 

  5. 5

    Schläpfer, F. & Schmid, B. Ecosystem effects of biodiversity: a classification of hypotheses and exploration of empirical results. Ecol. Appl. 9, 893–912 (1999).

    Article  Google Scholar 

  6. 6

    Huston, M. A. Hidden treatments in ecological experiments: re-evaluating the ecosystem function of biodiversity. Oecologia 110, 449–460 (1997).

    ADS  Article  Google Scholar 

  7. 7

    Aarssen, L. W. High productivity in grassland ecosystems: effected by species diversity or productive species? Oikos 80, 183–184 (1997).

    Article  Google Scholar 

  8. 8

    Tilman, D. Distinguishing the effects of species diversity and species composition. Oikos 80, 185 (1997).

    Article  Google Scholar 

  9. 9

    Wardle, D. A. Is ‘sampling effect’ a problem for experiments investigating biodiversity–ecosystem function relationships? Oikos 87, 403–407 (1999).

    Article  Google Scholar 

  10. 10

    van der Heijden, M. G. A. et al. ‘Sampling effect’, a problem in biodiversity manipulation? A reply to David A. Wardle. Oikos 87, 408–410 (1999).

    Article  Google Scholar 

  11. 11

    Huston, M. A. et al. No consistent effect of plant diversity on productivity. Science 289, 1255 (2000).

    CAS  Article  Google Scholar 

  12. 12

    Hector, A. et al. No consistent effect of plant diversity on productivity: Response. Science 289, 1255 (2000).

    Article  Google Scholar 

  13. 13

    Tilman, D., Lehman, C. & Thompson, K. Plant diversity and ecosystem productivity: theoretical considerations. Proc. Natl Acad. Sci. USA 94, 1857–1861 (1997).

    ADS  CAS  Article  Google Scholar 

  14. 14

    Loreau, M. Biodiversity and ecosystem functioning: a mechanistic model. Proc. Natl Acad. Sci. USA 95, 5632–5636 (1998).

    ADS  CAS  Article  Google Scholar 

  15. 15

    Loreau, M. Biodiversity and ecosystem functioning: recent theoretical advances. Oikos 91, 3–17 (2000).

    Article  Google Scholar 

  16. 16

    Price, G. R. Selection and covariance. Nature 227, 520–521 (1970).

    ADS  CAS  Article  Google Scholar 

  17. 17

    Price, G. R. Extension of covariance selection mathematics. Ann. Hum. Genet. 35, 485–490 (1972).

    CAS  Article  Google Scholar 

  18. 18

    Frank, S. A. George Price's contributions to evolutionary genetics. J. Theor. Biol. 175, 373–388 (1995).

    CAS  Article  Google Scholar 

  19. 19

    Frank, S. A. The Price Equation, Fisher's fundamental theorem, kin selection, and causal analysis. Evolution 51, 1712–1729 (1997).

    Article  Google Scholar 

  20. 20

    Garnier, E., Navas, M.-L., Austin, M. P., Lilley, J. M. & Gifford, R. M. A problem for biodiversity–productivity studies: how to compare the productivity of multispecific plant mixtures to that of monocultures? Acta Oecol. 18, 657–670 (1997).

    ADS  Article  Google Scholar 

  21. 21

    Hector, A. The effect of diversity on productivity: detecting the role of species complementarity. Oikos 82, 597–599 (1998).

    Article  Google Scholar 

  22. 22

    Loreau, M. Separating sampling and other effects in biodiversity experiments. Oikos 82, 600–602 (1998).

    Article  Google Scholar 

  23. 23

    Troumbis, A. Y., Dimitrakopoulos, P. G., Siamantziouras, A.-S. D. & Memtsas, D. Hidden diversity and productivity patterns in mixed Mediterranean grasslands. Oikos 90, 549–559 (2000).

    Article  Google Scholar 

  24. 24

    Price, G. R. The nature of selection. J. Theor. Biol. 175, 389–396 (1995).

    CAS  Article  Google Scholar 

  25. 25

    Jolliffe, P. A. The replacement series. J. Ecol. 88, 371–385 (2000).

    Article  Google Scholar 

Download references

Acknowledgements

We thank S. Yachi, B. Schmid and D. Deutschman for suggestions and all members of BIODEPTH for their input to the project. This work was supported by the CNRS GDR 1936 DIV-ECO and the CNRS PICS Dynamics of biodiversity: from species interactions to ecosystem functioning.

Author information

Affiliations

Authors

Corresponding author

Correspondence to Michel Loreau.

Rights and permissions

Reprints and Permissions

About this article

Cite this article

Loreau, M., Hector, A. Partitioning selection and complementarity in biodiversity experiments. Nature 412, 72–76 (2001). https://doi.org/10.1038/35083573

Download citation

Further reading

Comments

By submitting a comment you agree to abide by our Terms and Community Guidelines. If you find something abusive or that does not comply with our terms or guidelines please flag it as inappropriate.

Search

Quick links

Nature Briefing

Sign up for the Nature Briefing newsletter — what matters in science, free to your inbox daily.

Get the most important science stories of the day, free in your inbox. Sign up for Nature Briefing