From selection to complementarity: Shifts in the causes of biodiversity-productivity relationships in a long-term biodiversity experiment

Joseph Fargione*, David Tilman, Ray Dybzinski, Janneke Hille Ris Lambers, Chris Clark, W. Stanley Harpole, Johannes M.H. Knops, Peter B. Reich, Michel Loreau

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

348 Citations (Scopus)


In a 10-year (1996-2005) biodiversity experiment, the mechanisms underlying the increasingly positive effect of biodiversity on plant biomass production shifted from sampling to complementarity over time. The effect of diversity on plant biomass was associated primarily with the accumulation of higher total plant nitrogen pools (N g m-2) and secondarily with more efficient N use at higher diversity. The accumulation of N in living plant biomass was significantly increased by the presence of legumes, C4 grasses, and their combined presence. Thus, these results provide clear evidence for the increasing effects of complementarity through time and suggest a mechanism whereby diversity increases complementarity through the increased input and retention of N, a commonly limiting nutrient.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)871-876
Number of pages6
JournalProceedings of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences
Issue number1611
Publication statusPublished - 22 Mar 2007
Externally publishedYes


  • Biodiversity
  • Complementarity effect
  • Nitrogen
  • Sampling effect
  • Selection effect

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