Asynchrony among local communities stabilises ecosystem function of metacommunities

TitleAsynchrony among local communities stabilises ecosystem function of metacommunities
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication2017
AuthorsWilcox KR, Tredennick AT, Koerner SE, Grman E, Hallett LM, Avolio ML, La Pierre KJ, Houseman GR, Isbell F, Johnson DS, Alatalo JM, Baldwin AH, Bork EW, Boughton EH, Bowman WD, Britton AJ, Cahill JF, Collins SL, Du G, Eskelinen A, Gough L, Jentsch A, Kern C, Klanderud K, Knapp AK, Kreyling J, Luo Y, McLaren JR, Megonigal P, Onipchenko V, Prevéy J, Price JN, Robinson CH, Sala OE, Smith MD, Soudzilovskaia NA, Souza L, Tilman D, White SR, Xu Z, Yahdjian L, Yu Q, Zhang P, Zhang Y
JournalEcology Letters
Start Page1534
Date Published12/2017
Accession NumberSEV.783

Temporal stability of ecosystem functioning increases the predictability and reliability of ecosystem
services, and understanding the drivers of stability across spatial scales is important for land
management and policy decisions. We used species-level abundance data from 62 plant communities
across five continents to assess mechanisms of temporal stability across spatial scales. We
assessed how asynchrony (i.e. different units responding dissimilarly through time) of species and
local communities stabilised metacommunity ecosystem function. Asynchrony of species increased
stability of local communities, and asynchrony among local communities enhanced metacommunity
stability by a wide range of magnitudes (1–315%); this range was positively correlated with
the size of the metacommunity. Additionally, asynchronous responses among local communities
were linked with species’ populations fluctuating asynchronously across space, perhaps stemming
from physical and/or competitive differences among local communities. Accordingly, we suggest
spatial heterogeneity should be a major focus for maintaining the stability of ecosystem services at
larger spatial scales.