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Intra- and interspecific variability of specific leaf area mitigate the reduction of community stability in response to warming and nitrogen addition

Citation

Huang, Mengjiao et al. (2022), Intra- and interspecific variability of specific leaf area mitigate the reduction of community stability in response to warming and nitrogen addition, Dryad, Dataset, https://doi.org/10.5061/dryad.kprr4xh57

Abstract

Global environmental changes are reducing the diversity and affecting the functioning of natural ecosystems as well as their ability to reliably provide ecosystem functions and services to mankind. Many studies have shown that a greater plant diversity can stabilize community productivity against environmental fluctuations. However, most of these studies focused on plant species richness, thus overlooking the potential role of functional traits in stabilizing community productivity against environmental fluctuations. Whether and how functional trait mean and variability influence community stability in response to environmental changes and their relative contributions to community stability are largely unknown. Here, we used a 10-year experiment to investigate the role of species richness, as well as functional mean and intra- and interspecific variability of specific leaf area (SLA) of plants within- and among communities in driving community stability in response to nitrogen (N) addition and warming. We found that both N addition and warming reduced the temporal stability of community productivity by reducing species richness and its contribution to species asynchrony and species stability. In contrast, changes in the mean and variability of SLA in response to N addition and warming mitigated the reduction of community stability. Specifically, N addition reduced variation in SLA both by reducing interspecific differences in SLA within communities and differences in mean values of SLA among communities. Warming increased intraspecific differences in SLA among communities, leading to higher species stability that partly buffered the reduction of community stability. Our study demonstrates the role of trait mean and variability in mitigating the reduction of community stability in response to two pervasive global environmental changes. Gaining a deeper understanding of the processes linking global changes and the stability of our ecosystems requires integrating both trait mean values and trait variability.

Funding

National Natural Science Foundation of China, Award: 31830009