Higher effect of plant species diversity on productivity in natural than artificial ecosystems

Pedro Flombaum, Osvaldo E. Sala

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

122 Scopus citations


Current and expected changes in biodiversity have motivated major experiments, which reported a positive relationship between plant species diversity and primary production. As a first step in addressing this relationship, these manipulative experiments controlled as many potential confounding covariables as possible and assembled artificial ecosystems for the purpose of the experiments. As a new step in this endeavor, we asked how plant species richness relates to productivity in a natural ecosystem. Here, we report on an experiment conducted in a natural ecosystem in the Patagonian steppe, in which we assessed the biodiversity effect on primary production. Using a plant species diversity gradient generated by removing species while maintaining constant biomass, we found that aboveground net primary production increased with the number of plant species. We also found that the biodiversity effect was larger in natural than in artificial ecosystems. This result supports previous findings and also suggests that the effect of biodiversity in natural ecosystems may be much larger than currently thought.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)6087-6090
Number of pages4
JournalProceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America
Issue number16
StatePublished - Apr 22 2008
Externally publishedYes


  • Biodiversity
  • Carbon cycle
  • Ecosystem functioning
  • Patagonian steppe
  • Resource partitioning

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General


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