Jack-of-all-trades effects drive biodiversity-ecosystem multifunctionality relationships in European forests

Fons van der Plas*, Peter Manning, Eric Allan, Michael Scherer-Lorenzen, Kris Verheyen, Christian Wirth, Miguel A. Zavala, Andy Hector, Evy Ampoorter, Lander Baeten, Luc Barbaro, Jürgen Bauhus, Raquel Benavides, Adam Benneter, Felix Berthold, Damien Bonal, Olivier Bouriaud, Helge Bruelheide, Filippo Bussotti, Monique CarnolBastien Castagneyrol, Yohan Charbonnier, David Coomes, Andrea Coppi, Cristina C. Bastias, Seid Muhie Dawud, Hans De Wandeler, Timo Domisch, Leena Finér, Arthur Gessler, André Granier, Charlotte Grossiord, Virginie Guyot, Stephan Hättenschwiler, Hervé Jactel, Bogdan Jaroszewicz, François Xavier Joly, Tommaso Jucker, Julia Koricheva, Harriet Milligan, Sandra Müller, Bart Muys, Diem Nguyen, Martina Pollastrini, Karsten Raulund-Rasmussen, Federico Selvi, Jan Stenlid, Fernando Valladares, Lars Vesterdal, Dawid Zielínski, Markus Fischer

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

138 Citations (Scopus)


There is considerable evidence that biodiversity promotes multiple ecosystem functions (multifunctionality), thus ensuring the delivery of ecosystem services important for human well-being. However, the mechanisms underlying this relationship are poorly understood, especially in natural ecosystems. We develop a novel approach to partition biodiversity effects on multifunctionality into three mechanisms and apply this to European forest data. We show that throughout Europe, tree diversity is positively related with multifunctionality when moderate levels of functioning are required, but negatively when very high function levels are desired. For two well-known mechanisms, "complementarity"™ and " selection"™, we detect only minor effects on multifunctionality. Instead a third, so far overlooked mechanism, the " jack-of-all-trades"™ effect, caused by the averaging of individual species effects on function, drives observed patterns. Simulations demonstrate that jack-of-all-trades effects occur whenever species effects on different functions are not perfectly correlated, meaning they may contribute to diversity-multifunctionality relationships in many of the world"™ s ecosystems.

Original languageEnglish
Article number11109
JournalNature Communications
Publication statusPublished - 24 Mar 2016
Externally publishedYes


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