Reduced biodiversity affects the stability of the entire ecosystem. A long-term experiment now shows that grassland plant communities with multiple species need about 10 years to adjust to each other and produce an even amount of biomass again.
After more than a decade, plant species in more diverse experimental communities complemented each other in producing stable biomass at the community level. At low plant diversity, by contrast, this “compensatory” effect was observed and community biomass varied much more from year to year.
Because ecosystem stability incurs resilience in the face of environmental perturbations, it follows that in a changing world, older, more diverse ecosystems should be valued particularly highly.