The role of biodiversity in ecosystem stability and resistance to climate change.

Project Details

Key Questions

What role does biodiversity play in ecosystem resistance and stability to climate change, specifically variation in rainfall?


Biodiversity is being lost and homogenized. This matters not just for the loss of biodiversity itself but also because of the potential negative impacts of biodiversity loss on the functioning and stability of ecosystems.

Aims of the Project

The aim of the project is to combine a new experimental manipulation of plant diversity with existing climate change treatments to test the role of biodiversity in ecosystem stability. The projects will look at the combined and interactive effects of biodiversity and climate change on measures of community structure, function and stability.

Methods to be used

The project will combine experimental manipulations of both climate (rainfall input) and biodiversity. This project is based on the long-term climate change experiment established in the Wytham grasslands: Raindrop (Rainfall and Drought Platform) and the global network - Drought-Net - to which it contributes. Raindrop has already been running for five years (2016-2020) with an extensive long-term database which will contribute to this project. The existing Raindrop project uses experimental rain shelters to compare grassland communities in ambient control plots with those that have rainfall reduced or increased by 50% (with a fourth procedural control treatment identifying the effects of the rain shelters). We will cross these existing treatments with new seed addition treatments designed to increase levels of species and functional diversity to test their role in ecosystem resistance and stability.

Specialised skills required

This project will combine:

- Field ecology

- Technology (climate manipulation; environmental sensors; drone monitoring)

- Statistical analysis (mixed-effects models and related techniques)

Please contact Andy Hector on if you are interested in this project.