Diversity-stability relationships across organism groups and ecosystem types become decoupled across spatial scales

Publications Type: 
Journal Article
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Wisnoski, Nathan I.; Andrade, Riley; Castorani, Max C. N.; Catano, Christopher P.; Compagnoni, Aldo; Lamy, Thomas; Lany, Nina K.; Marazzi, Luca; Record, Sydne; Smith, Annie C.; Swan, Christopher M.; Tonkin, Jonathan D.; Voelker, Nicole M.; Zarnetske, Phoebe L.; Sokol, Eric R. 2023. Diversity–stability relationships across organism groups and ecosystem types become decoupled across spatial scales. Ecology:104(9): e4136. doi:https://doi.org/10.1002/ecy.4136


The relationship between biodiversity and stability, or its inverse, temporal variability, is multidimensional and complex. Temporal variability in aggregate properties, like total biomass or abundance, is typically lower in communities with higher species diversity (i.e., the diversity?stability relationship [DSR]). At broader spatial extents, regional-scale aggregate variability is also lower with higher regional diversity (in plant systems) and with lower spatial synchrony. However, focusing exclusively on aggregate properties of communities may overlook potentially destabilizing compositional shifts. It is not yet clear how diversity is related to different components of variability across spatial scales, nor whether regional DSRs emerge across a broad range of organisms and ecosystem types. To test these questions, we compiled a large collection of long-term metacommunity data spanning a wide range of taxonomic groups (e.g., birds, fish, plants, invertebrates) and ecosystem types (e.g., deserts, forests, oceans). We applied a newly developed quantitative framework for jointly analyzing aggregate and compositional variability across scales. We quantified DSRs for composition and aggregate variability in local communities and metacommunities. At the local scale, more diverse communities were less variable, but this effect was stronger for aggregate than compositional properties. We found no stabilizing effect of ?-diversity on metacommunity variability, but ?-diversity played a strong role in reducing compositional spatial synchrony, which reduced regional variability. Spatial synchrony differed among taxa, suggesting differences in stabilization by spatial processes. However, metacommunity variability was more strongly driven by local variability than by spatial synchrony. Across a broader range of taxa, our results suggest that high ?-diversity does not consistently stabilize aggregate properties at regional scales without sufficient spatial ?-diversity to reduce spatial synchrony.
Keywords: community variability; diversity–stability relationship; metacommunity; spatial insurance hypothesis; stability