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Title: Biodiversity mediates ecosystem sensitivity to climate variability

A rich body of evidence from local-scale experiments and observational studies has revealed stabilizing effects of biodiversity on ecosystem functioning. However, whether these effects emerge across entire regions and continents remains largely overlooked. Here we combine data on the distribution of more than 57,500 plant species and remote-sensing observations throughout the entire Western Hemisphere to investigate the role of multiple facets of plant diversity (species richness, phylogenetic diversity, and functional diversity) in mediating the sensitivity of ecosystems to climate variability at the regional-scale over the past 20 years. We show that, across multiple biomes, regions of greater plant diversity exhibit lower sensitivity (more stable over time) to temperature variability at the interannual and seasonal-scales. While these areas can display lower sensitivity to interannual variability in precipitation, they emerge as highly sensitive to precipitation seasonality. Conserving landscapes of greater diversity may help stabilize ecosystem functioning under climate change, possibly securing the continuous provisions of productivity-related ecosystem service to people.

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Communications Biology
Nature Publishing Group
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National Science Foundation
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