Functional diversity enhances the resistance of ecosystem multifunctionality to aridity in Mediterranean drylands

Enrique Valencia*, Fernando T. Maestre, Yoann Le Bagousse-Pinguet, José Luis Quero, Riin Tamme, Luca Börger, Miguel García-Gómez, Nicolas Gross

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

180 Scopus citations


Summary: We used a functional trait-based approach to assess the impacts of aridity and shrub encroachment on the functional structure of Mediterranean dryland communities (functional diversity (FD) and community-weighted mean trait values (CWM)), and to evaluate how these functional attributes ultimately affect multifunctionality (i.e. the provision of several ecosystem functions simultaneously). Shrub encroachment (the increase in the abundance/cover of shrubs) is a major land cover change that is taking place in grasslands worldwide. Studies conducted on drylands have reported positive or negative impacts of shrub encroachment depending on the functions and the traits of the sprouting or nonsprouting shrub species considered. FD and CWM were equally important as drivers of multifunctionality responses to both aridity and shrub encroachment. Size traits (e.g. vegetative height or lateral spread) and leaf traits (e.g. specific leaf area and leaf dry matter content) captured the effect of shrub encroachment on multifunctionality with a relative high accuracy (r2 = 0.63). FD also improved the resistance of multifunctionality along the aridity gradient studied. Maintaining and enhancing FD in plant communities may help to buffer negative effects of ongoing global environmental change on dryland multifunctionality.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)660-671
Number of pages12
JournalNew Phytologist
Issue number2
StatePublished - Apr 1 2015

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2015 New Phytologist Trust.


  • Aridity
  • Drylands
  • Functional biogeography
  • Functional diversity (FD)
  • Global change
  • Multifunctionality
  • Shrub encroachment
  • Traits

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Physiology
  • Plant Science


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