Sown Diversity Effects on Yield and Resistance to Weed Invasion: Clues to Improve Mixture Design Under Climatic Change in the Mediterranean

Angela Ribas Artola, Alba Llovet Martin*, Rosa Llurba, John Connolly, Sebastiá Alvarez, Maria Teresa

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

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With the aim to improve mixture design, particularly in regions vulnerable to climate change, we tested several forage communities following the biodiversity–ecosystem function (BEF) framework. We sowed monocultures and 4-species mixtures from a pool of 7 forage species in a sub-Mediterranean region (Eastern Pyrenees) and assessed the diversity effects on yield and resistance to weed invasion. The tested species included two grasses and five legumes with contrasting temporal patterns and different climatic amplitudes. The communities differed in their specific composition (mixture types) and the relative abundance of the components, following a simplex design, which allowed us to estimate separately the two components of the diversity effect: the individual species effects and that due to species interactions. Whereas monocultures performed in a highly variable way within and across harvests, both in relation to yield and weed suppression, mixture variability was narrower. Both functions increased in mixtures (with significant interaction effects between 24% and 57% for yield and 13% and 96% for weed suppression), especially in those mixtures including Mediterranean species, which showed the highest diversity effects that persisted over the three experimental years. Extreme climatic events during the experimental period might have affected not only the species’ individual performances but also the strength of species interactions. Both components of diversity, identities and interactions, were key in maintaining high performances. We conclude that, under the current climate change scenario, it is important to include species in mixtures that increase resistance or resilience not only at the species level but also at the community level, through enhanced interaction effects.
Original languageEnglish
Article number108601
Number of pages11
JournalAgriculture, Ecosystems and Environment
Early online date2 Jun 2023
Publication statusPublished - 15 Oct 2023


  • Agroecology
  • Climate change adaptation
  • Diversity effects
  • Forage persistence
  • Mediterranean mountain systems
  • Polycultures


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