Dispersal scales up the biodiversity-productivity relationship in an experimental source-sink metacommunity.
Venail PA., Maclean RC., Meynard CN., Mouquet N.
The influence of biodiversity on ecosystem functioning is a major concern of ecological research. However, the biodiversity-ecosystem functioning relationship has very often been studied independently from the mechanisms allowing coexistence. By considering the effects of dispersal and niche partitioning on diversity, the metacommunity perspective predicts a spatial scale-dependence of the shape of the relationship. Here, we present experimental evidence of such scale-dependent patterns. After approximately 500 generations of diversification in a spatially heterogeneous environment, we measured functional diversity (FD) and productivity at both local and regional scales in experimental source-sink metacommunities of the bacterium Pseudomonas fluorescens SBW25. At the regional scale, environmental heterogeneity yielded high levels of FD and we observed a positive correlation between diversity and productivity. At the local scale, intermediate dispersal increased local FD through a mass effect but there was no correlation between diversity and productivity. These experimental results underline the importance of considering the mechanisms maintaining biodiversity and the appropriate spatial scales in understanding its relationship with ecosystem functioning.