Asynchrony among local communities stabilises ecosystem function of metacommunities

Kevin R Wilcox, Andrew T Tredennick, Sally E Koerner, Emily Grman, Lauren M Hallett, Meghan L Avolio, Kimberly J La Pierre, Gregory R Houseman, Forest Isbell, David S. Johnson, Juha M. Alatalo, Andrew Baldwin, Edward Bork, Elizabeth H Boughton, William D. Bowman, Andrea J Britton, James F Cahill Jr, Scott L Collins, Guozhen Du, Anu EskelinenLaura Gough, Anke Jentsch, Christel Kern, Kari Klanderud, Alan K Knapp, Juergen Kreyling, Yiqi Luo, Jennie R McLaren, Patrick Megonigal, Vladimir Onipchenko, Janet Prevéy, Jodi Price, Clare Robinson, Osvaldo Sala, Melinda Smith, Nadejda A Soudzilovskaia, Lara Souza, David Tilman, Shannon R White, Zhuwen Xu, Laura Yahdjian, Qiang Yue, Pengfei Zhang, Yunhai Zhang

    Research output: Contribution to journalLetterpeer-review


    Temporal stability of ecosystem functioning increases the predictability and reliability of ecosystem services, and understanding the drivers of stability across spatial scales is important for land management and policy decisions. We used species-level abundance data from 62 plant communities across five continents to assess mechanisms of temporal stability across spatial scales. We assessed how asynchrony (i.e., different units responding dissimilarly through time) of species and local communities stabilized metacommunity ecosystem function. Asynchrony of species increased stability of local communities, and asynchrony among local communities enhanced metacommunity stability by a wide range of magnitudes (1-315%); this range was correlated with the size of the metacommunity. Additionally, asynchronous responses among local communities was linked with species’ populations fluctuating asynchronously across space, perhaps stemming from physical and/or competitive differences among local communities. Accordingly, we suggest spatial heterogeneity should be a major focus for maintaining the stability of ecosystem services at larger spatial scales.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)1534-1545
    JournalEcology Letters
    Issue number12
    Publication statusPublished - 1 Dec 2017


    • alpha diversity
    • alpha variability
    • beta diversity
    • Biodiversity
    • CoRRE data base
    • species synchrony
    • Plant communities
    • Primary productivity
    • patchiness


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