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Title: Disturbance effects on productivity–plant diversity relationships from a 22‐year‐old successional field
Abstract Aims

The productivity–plant diversity relationship is a central subject in ecology under debate for decades. Anthropogenic disturbances have been demonstrated to affect productivity and plant diversity. However, the impact of disturbances on the productivity–diversity relationship is poorly understood.


An old‐field located at the Touch of Nature Environmental Center in Jackson County, Illinois, USA.


A manipulative experiment with fertilizer (unfertilized, fertilized annually, fertilized every five years) and mowing (unmowed, mowed in spring only, mowed in spring and fall) in a successional old‐field began in 1996 to examine disturbance effects on above‐ground net primary productivity (ANPP)–plant diversity relationships. Taxonomic (species richness, T0) and phylogenetic (net relatedness index, NRI) diversity were selected as potential plant diversity metrics.


A unimodal relationship of ANPP with T0 and a negative relationship between ANPP and NRI were found across all treatments and years in this study, but individual years showed different patterns. Fertilization did not affect T0, NRI, and ANPP, whereas mowing stimulated T0 and ANPP but reduced NRI (i.e., increasing phylogenetic diversity) across all survey years. New colonists, especially exotic species introduced under mowing, but not locally extinct species, were more distantly related to resident species than by chance, implying that invasion of exotic species contributes to phylogenetic overdispersion of community assembly in the old‐field. However, the patterns of the unimodal relationship of ANPP with T0 and the negative correlation between ANPP and NRI did not change under fertilization or mowing in this study.


Anthropogenic disturbances alter productivity and different dimensions of plant diversity, but do not change the patterns of the productivity–diversity relationships. Our findings highlight the robust relationship between productivity and diversity providing empirical support for productivity as a powerful predictor of plant diversity under intensified human activities.

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Author(s) / Creator(s):
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Date Published:
Journal Name:
Journal of Vegetation Science
Medium: X
Sponsoring Org:
National Science Foundation
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