Reducing dispersal limitation via seed addition increases species richness but not above‐ground biomass

Authors: Emma Ladouceur, W. Stanley Harpole, Shane A. Blowes, Christiane Roscher, Harald Auge, Eric W. Seabloom, Jonathan M. Chase

Seed dispersal limitation, which can be exacerbated by a number of anthropogenic causes, can result in local communities having fewer species than they might potentially support, representing a potential diversity deficit. The link between processes that shape natural variation in diversity, such as dispersal limitation, and the consequent effects on productivity is less well known. Here, we synthesised data from 12 seed addition experiments in grassland communities to examine the influence of reducing seed dispersal limitation (from 1 to 60 species added across experiments) on species richness and productivity. For every 10 species of seed added, we found that species richness increased by about two species. However, the increase in species richness by overcoming seed limitation did not lead to a concomitant increase in above‐ground biomass production. This highlights the need to consider the relationship between biodiversity and ecosystem functioning in a pluralistic way that considers both the processes that shape diversity and productivity simultaneously in naturally assembled communities.

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