The maintenance of biodiversity is crucial for ecosystem processes such as plant biomass production, as higher species richness is associated with increased biomass production in plant communities. However, the effects of evenness and functional diversity on biomass production are understudied. We manipulated the composition of an experimental grassland by sowing various seed mixtures and examined the effects of diversity and evenness on biomass production after three years. We found that biomass production increased with greater species and functional richness but decreased with greater species and functional evenness. Standing biomass increased but species number and functional richness decreased with increasing proportion of perennial grasses. Our findings emphasise the importance of productive dominant species, as the proportion of perennial grasses had a positive effect on standing biomass, while species and functional evenness had a negative effect on it. Thus, our findings support the theory that, besides diversity, dominance effects and the so-called mass ratio hypothesis may also play a key role in explaining primary biomass production.
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