Warming effects on grassland productivity depend on plant diversity

Junjiong Shao, Xuhui Zhou, Kees Jan van Groenigen, Guiyao Zhou, Huimin Zhou, Lingyan Zhou, Meng Lu, Jianyang Xia, Lin Jiang, Bruce A. Hungate, Yiqi Luo, Fangliang He, Madhav P. Thakur

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

13 Scopus citations


Aim: Climate warming and biodiversity loss both alter plant productivity, yet we lack an understanding of how biodiversity regulates the responses of ecosystems to warming. In this study, we examine how plant diversity regulates the responses of grassland productivity to experimental warming using meta-analytic techniques. Location: Global. Major taxa studied: Grassland ecosystems. Methods: Our meta-analysis is based on warming responses of 40 different plant communities obtained from 20 independent studies on grasslands across five continents. Results: Our results show that plant diversity and its responses to warming were the most important factors regulating the warming effects on plant productivity, among all the factors considered (plant diversity, climate and experimental settings). Specifically, warming increased plant productivity when plant diversity (indicated by effective number of species) in grasslands was lower than 10, whereas warming decreased plant productivity when plant diversity was greater than 10. Moreover, the structural equation modelling showed that the magnitude of warming enhanced plant productivity by increasing the performance of dominant plant species in grasslands of diversity lower than 10. The negative effects of warming on productivity in grasslands with plant diversity greater than 10 were partly explained by diversity-induced decline in plant dominance. Main conclusions: Our findings suggest that the positive or negative effect of warming on grassland productivity depends on how biodiverse a grassland is. This may mainly be due to differences in how warming may affect plant dominance and subsequent shifts in interspecific interactions in grasslands of different plant diversity levels.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)588-598
Number of pages11
JournalGlobal Ecology and Biogeography
Issue number3
StatePublished - Mar 2022

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Global and Planetary Change
  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics
  • Ecology


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