Above- and belowground complementarity rather than selection drives tree diversity-productivity relationships in European forests

Abstract

Tree species diversity promotes multiple ecosystem functions and services. However, little is known about how above- and belowground resource availability (light, nutrients, and water) and resource uptake capacity mediate tree species diversity effects on aboveground wood productivity and temporal stability of productivity in European forests and whether the effects differ between humid and arid regions. We used the data from six major European forest types along a latitudinal gradient to address those two questions. We found that neither leaf area index (a proxy for light uptake capacity), nor fine root biomass (a proxy for soil nutrient and water uptake capacity) was related to tree species richness. Leaf area index did, however, enhance productivity, but negatively affected stability. Productivity was further promoted by soil nutrient availability, while stability was enhanced by fine root biomass. We only found a positive effect of tree species richness on productivity in arid regions and a positive effect on stability in humid regions. This indicates a possible disconnection between productivity and stability regarding tree species richness effects. In other words, the mechanisms that drive the positive effects of tree species richness on productivity do not per se benefit stability simultaneously. Our findings therefore suggest that tree species richness effects are largely mediated by differences in climatic conditions rather than by differences in above- and belowground resource availability and uptake capacity at the regional scales.

Publication
Science of the Total Environment
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