The relationship between biodiversity and stability of marine benthic assemblages was investigated through meta-analyses using existing data sets (n = 28) covering various spatial (m-km) and temporal (1973-2006; ranging from 5 to >250 months) scales in different benthic habitats (emergent rock, rock pools and sedimentary habitats) over different European marine systems (North Atlantic and western Mediterranean). Stability was measured by a lower variability in time, and variability was estimated as temporal variance of species richness, total abundance (density or % cover) and community structure (using Bray-Curtis dissimilarities on species composition and abundance). Stability generally decreased with species richness. Temporal variability in species richness increased with the number of species at both quadrat (<1 m(2)) and site (similar to 100 m(2)) scales, while no relationship was observed by multivariate analyses. Positive relationships were also observed at the scale of site between temporal variability in species richness and variability in community structure with evenness estimates. This implies that the relationship between species richness or evenness and species richness variability is slightly positive and depends on the scale of observation. Thus, species richness does not stabilize temporal fluctuations in species number, rather species rich assemblages are those most likely to undergo the largest fluctuations in species numbers and abundance from time to time. Changes within community assemblages in terms of structure are, however, generally independent of biodiversity. Except for sedimentary and rock pool habitats, no relationship was observed between temporal variation of total abundances and diversity at either scale. Overall, our results emphasize that the relation between species richness and species-level measures of temporal variability depends on scale of measurements, type of habitats and the marine system (North Atlantic and Mediterranean) considered.
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