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Relationship between Productivity, and Species and Functional Group Diversity in Grazed and Non-Grazed Pampas Grassland

Graciela M. Rusch and Martín Oesterheld
Oikos
Vol. 78, No. 3 (Apr., 1997), pp. 519-526
Published by: Wiley on behalf of Nordic Society Oikos
DOI: 10.2307/3545613
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/3545613
Page Count: 8
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Relationship between Productivity, and Species and Functional Group Diversity in Grazed and Non-Grazed Pampas Grassland
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Abstract

Most hypotheses addressing the effect of diversity on ecosystem function indicate the occurrence of higher process rates with increasing diversity, and only diverge in the shape of the function depending on their assumptions about the role of individual species and functional groups. Contrarily to these predictions, we show that grazing of the Flooding Pampas grasslands increased species richness, but drastically reduced above ground net primary production, even when communities with similar initial biomass were compared. Grazing increased species richness through the addition of a number of exotic forbs, without reducing the richness and cover of the native flora. Since these forbs were essentially cool-season species, and also because their introduction has led to the displacement of warm-season grasses from dominant to subordinate positions in the community, grazing not only decreased productivity, but also shifted its seasonality towards the cool season. These results suggest that species diversity and/or richness alone are poor predictors of above-ground primary production. Therefore, models that relate productivity to diversity should take into account the relative abundance and identity of species that are added or deleted by the specific disturbances that modify diversity.

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