Magnitude of Species Diversity Effect on Aboveground Plant Biomass Increases Through Successional Time of Abandoned Farmlands on the Eastern Tibetan Plateau of China

Wenjin Li*, Jinhua Li, Shuangshuang Liu, Rulan Zhang, Wei Qi, Renyi Zhang, Johannes M.H. Knops, Junfeng Lu

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

23 Citations (Scopus)


Recent empirical and theoretical studies have shown that magnitude and direction of biodiversity effects on ecosystem functioning can shifts over time. Here, we used species richness and plant abundance (total individual plant stem density) as proxies for species diversity and aboveground biomass for productivity. We used an analytical approach combining both chronosequence and 6 year of vegetation monitoring in a subalpine ecosystem as a model system to assess temporal species richness–abundance–aboveground biomass relationships at different successional stages and spatial scales. We observed that both species richness and plant aboveground biomass increased rapidly early in succession after land abandonment, then after 10 years of abandonment reached a steady state. We found that the relationship between species richness and plant abundance with aboveground biomass was strengthening over successional time. In all successional stages, species richness had stronger positive effects as compared with plant abundance on plant aboveground biomass. Species richness was linearly correlated with aboveground biomass, whereas plant abundance showed a humped-back relationship with aboveground biomass across all successional stages. Our results showed an increase in the effect of plant diversity over time, and a combination of both plant species richness and abundance is correlated with plant productivity throughout successional time, knowledge that maybe important to managing ecological restoration and conservation.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)370-378
Number of pages9
JournalLand Degradation and Development
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2017
Externally publishedYes


  • Tibet Plateau
  • abandoned farmlands
  • diversity–productivity relationships
  • plant density
  • plant productivity
  • secondary succession
  • species richness
  • subalpine meadow

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