DOI: 10.1002/ece3.10487 ISSN:

Alpha and beta diversity jointly drive the aboveground biomass in temperate and tropical forests

Jie Yao, Jihong Huang, Runguo Zang
  • Nature and Landscape Conservation
  • Ecology
  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics


Changes in biodiversity often affect ecosystem functioning. However, most previous biodiversity and ecosystem functioning (BEF) studies have generally been limited to very small spatial grains. Thus, knowledge regarding the biodiversity–ecosystem functioning relationships across spatial scales is lacking. Moreover, the multiscale nature of biodiversity, and specifically β diversity (i.e., spatial heterogeneity in species composition) was still largely missing in BEF studies. Here, using the vegetation and functional trait data collected from four 6‐ha forest dynamics plots (FDPs) in temperate and tropical forests in China, we examine the scale‐dependent relationships between tree diversity and the aboveground biomass (AGB), as well as the roles of species spatial heterogeneity in determining the AGB. In tropical forests, the effect of species richness on AGB decreased with spatial grains, while functional dominance played a stronger role at larger spatial grains. In temperate forests, positive relationship between diversity and AGB occurred at all spatial grains, especially on smaller scales. In both temperate and tropical forests, β diversity was positively correlated with AGB, but weaker than α diversity in determining AGB. Overall, complementarity and selection hypothesis play dominant role in determining AGB in temperate and tropical forests, respectively. The roles of these underlying mechanisms are more pronounced with increasing spatial scales. β diversity, a hitherto underexplored facet of biodiversity, is likely to increase ecosystem functions by species spatial turnover and should not be neglected in BEF explorations. Our findings have practical implications for forest management and demonstrate that biotic heterogeneity plays an important positive role in ecosystem functioning.

More from our Archive