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Overyielding in young tree communities does not support the stress-gradient hypothesis and is favoured by functional diversity and higher water availability

Citation

Belluau, Michael et al. (2021), Overyielding in young tree communities does not support the stress-gradient hypothesis and is favoured by functional diversity and higher water availability, Dryad, Dataset, https://doi.org/10.5061/dryad.ffbg79ctd

Abstract

Summary:

  1. Biodiversity effects on productivity and other ecosystem functions are strongly dependent on climate and resource availability. Based on the stress-gradient hypothesis, under conditions of greater abiotic stress, diversity effects on plant performance are intensified due to the increased relative importance of positive plant interactions. However, whether this hypothesis is consistently applicable in forest systems remains unclear. A field trial was established to test the stress-gradient hypothesis and examine diversity effects on aboveground biomass production of young trees in mixtures exposed to different water availability.
  2. Six native tree species of northern temperate forests (Acer saccharum, Betula papyrifera, Larix laricina, Picea glauca, Pinus strobus, and Quercus rubra) were planted as monocultures and as mixtures of two, four, and six species. For five growing seasons, four replicates of each community were exposed to conditions of either low- or high-water availability created by rainfall exclusion and weekly irrigation, respectively. Growth-years 4 and 5 were significantly different when the climatic water balance of the growing seasons were compared. We tested the effects of functional diversity on: (1) total growth of mixtures under low- and high-water availability, and (2) annual growth in years 4 (higher water availability, 2017) and 5 (lower water availability, 2018).
  3. Annual growth of most species in both years was greater under high- vs. low-water availability. Functional diversity had a significant positive effect on total biomass production and annual growth, and this effect was more strongly expressed under high-water availability. Functional diversity effects on annual growth did not differ between years 4 and 5 regardless of their climatic water balance. Functional and species identity were key to understanding productivity responses to mixture and treatment effects.
  4. Synthesis: Contrary to the stress-gradient hypothesis, the positive effects of functional diversity on productivity were enhanced by high-water availability and were independent of seasonal water balance.

Methods

See "Belluau, M., Vitali, V., Parker, W.C, Paquette, A., & Messier, C. (2021). Overyielding in young tree communities does not support the stress-gradient hypothesis and is favoured by functional diversity and higher water availability. Journal of Ecology. Accepted (29-12-2020).

Also see Metadata in dataset.

Usage Notes

See Metadata in dataset.

Funding

Mitacs, Award: IT10132

Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada, Award: STPGP 506724-17

Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry