Opposing effects of warming on the stability of above- and belowground productivity in facing an extreme drought event

Fangfang Ma, Yingjie Yan, Jens Christian Svenning, Quan Quan, Jinlong Peng, Ruiyang Zhang, Jinsong Wang, Dashuan Tian, Qingping Zhou, Shuli Niu*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journal/Conference contribution in journal/Contribution to newspaperJournal articleResearchpeer-review


Climate warming, often accompanied by extreme drought events, could have profound effects on both plant community structure and ecosystem functioning. However, how warming interacts with extreme drought to affect community- and ecosystem-level stability remains a largely open question. Using data from a manipulative experiment with three warming treatments in an alpine meadow that experienced one extreme drought event, we investigated how warming modulates resistance and recovery of community structural and ecosystem functional stability in facing with extreme drought. We found warming decreased resistance and recovery of aboveground net primary productivity (ANPP) and structural resistance but increased resistance and recovery of belowground net primary productivity (BNPP), overall net primary productivity (NPP), and structural recovery. The findings highlight the importance of jointly considering above- and belowground processes when evaluating ecosystem stability under global warming and extreme climate events. The stability of dominant species, rather than species richness and species asynchrony, was identified as a key predictor of ecosystem functional resistance and recovery, except for BNPP recovery. In addition, structural resistance of common species contributed strongly to the resistance changes in BNPP and NPP. Importantly, community structural resistance and recovery dominated the resistance and recovery of BNPP and NPP, but not for ANPP, suggesting the different mechanisms underlie the maintenance of stability of above- versus belowground productivity. This study is among the first to explain that warming modulates ecosystem stability in the face of extreme drought and lay stress on the need to investigate ecological stability at the community level for a more mechanistic understanding of ecosystem stability in response to climate extremes.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere4193
Publication statusPublished - Jan 2024


  • alpine meadow
  • asynchrony
  • disturbance
  • recovery
  • resistance
  • species diversity


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