DOI: 10.1111/ele.12861">


Asynchrony among local communities stabilises ecosystem function of metacommunities


Kevin R. Wilcox, University of Oklahoma
Andrew T. Tredennick, Utah State University
Sally E. Koerner, The University of North Carolina at Greensboro
Emily Grman, Eastern Michigan University
Lauren M. Hallett, University of Oregon
Meghan L. Avolio, Johns Hopkins University Krieger School of Arts and Sciences
Kimberly J. La Pierre, Smithsonian Environmental Research Center
Gregory R. Houseman, Wichita State University
Forest Isbell, University of Minnesota Twin Cities
David Samuel Johnson, Virginia Institute of Marine Science
Juha M. Alatalo, Qatar University
Andrew H. Baldwin, University of Maryland, College Park
Edward W. Bork, University of Alberta
Elizabeth H. Boughton, Archbold Biological Station
William D. Bowman, University of Colorado Boulder
Andrea J. Britton, The James Hutton Institute
James F. Cahill, University of Alberta
Scott L. Collins, The University of New Mexico
Guozhen Du, Lanzhou University
Anu Eskelinen, Helmholtz Zentrum für Umweltforschung
Laura Gough, Towson University
Anke Jentsch, Universität Bayreuth
Christel Kern, Northern Research Station
Kari Klanderud, Norges Miljø- og Biovitenskapelige Universitet
Alan K. Knapp, Colorado State University
Juergen Kreyling, Universität Greifswald
Yiqi Luo, University of Oklahoma
Jennie R. McLaren, The University of Texas at El Paso
Patrick Megonigal, Smithsonian Environmental Research Center
Vladimir Onipchenko, Lomonosov Moscow State University
Janet Prevéy, USDA Forest Service
Jodi N. Price, Charles Sturt University
Clare H. Robinson, The University of Manchester

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Publication Title

Ecology Letters


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 stabilised 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 positively correlated with the size of the metacommunity. Additionally, asynchronous responses among local communities were 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.

Link to Published Version

DOI: 10.1111/ele.12861