Intraspecific variability in growth response to environmental fluctuations modulates the stabilizing effect of species divertsity on forest growth.
Raphaël Aussenac, Yves Bergeron, Claudele Ghotsa Mekontchou, Dominique Gravel, Kamil Pilch, Igor Drobyshev.
- Differences between species in their response to environmental fluctuations cause asynchronized growth series, suggesting that species diversity may help communities buffer the effects of environmental fluctuations. However, within-species variability of responses may impact the stabilizing effect of growth asynchrony.
- We used tree ring data to investigate the diversity–stability relationship and its underlying mechanisms within the temperate and boreal mixed woods of Eastern Canada. We worked at the individual tree level to take into account the intraspecific variability of responses to environmental fluctuations.
- We found that species diversity stabilized growth in forest ecosystems. The asynchrony of species’ response to climatic fluctuations and to insect outbreaks explained this effect. We also found that the intraspecific variability of responses to environmental fluctuations was high, making the stabilizing effect of diversity highly variable.
- Synthesis. Our results are consistent with previous studies suggesting that the asynchrony of species’ response to environmental fluctuations drives the stabilizing effect of diversity. The intraspecific variability of these responses modulates the stabilizing effect of species diversity. Interactions between individuals, variation in tree size and spatial heterogeneity of environmental conditions could play a critical role in the stabilizing effect of diversity.