Diversity and stability of plant and soil communities in semi-natural grasslands

T.M. Bezemer

Research output: Contribution to conferenceAbstractAcademic


Diversity and stability of plant and soil communities in semi-natural grasslands T. Martijn Bezemer1,2 1Department of Terrestrial Ecology, Netherlands Institute of Ecology, Heteren, The Netherlands; 2Laboratory of Nematology, Wageningen University, Wageningen, The Netherlands The relationship between biodiversity and ecosytem functioning remains highly debated. A number of biodiversity experiments carried out in grassland communities have shown that there is a positive relationship between plant species diversity and ecoystem stability. In these studies plant community diversity has been maintained by hand weeding, and stability has been based on temporal changes in plant biomass. How changes in plant diversity will affect the temporal stability of other organisms remains poorly understood. I will show how the stability of plants and nematode populations is influenced by plant diversity in a long-term biodiversity experiment with sown and unsown plant communities. In contrast with other biodiversity experiments, the plant communities were not weeded. However, the sowing diversity treatments resulted in remarkably different plant communities. In sown plant communities, diversity had a positive effect on biomass stability and productivity. However, unsown plant communities had the highest diversity but were least productive and unstable. The mechanism behind these efects is that sowing reduced the spatial heterogeneity of the plant communities. Subsequently I will present data on the relationship between plant species diversity and the long-term population dynamics and temporal stability of soil nematodes. Nematodes are ideal organisms to study plant diversity effects on other organisms since they inhabit a range of trophic positions within the soil food web. The results show that plant diversity does not necessarily lead to stability in natural communities, and that diverse communities can be both stable and unstable. Martijn Bezemer (m.bezemer@nioo.knaw.nl) In my research I aim to disentangle how aboveground and belowground multitrophic communities interact. We study these interactions in individual plants and in microcosms, but most of my work focuses on above-belowground interactions in natural systems. In old-fields, I study how plant diversity affects above- and belowground communities, and how community composition influences these interactions on individual plants growing in those communities.
Original languageEnglish
Publication statusPublished - 2010
EventInternational Forum on Ecosystem Adaptability -
Duration: 21 Feb 201024 Feb 2010


ConferenceInternational Forum on Ecosystem Adaptability

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