Theses and Dissertations


Issuing Body

Mississippi State University


Himes, Austin

Committee Member

Polinko, Adam

Committee Member

Granger, Joshua J.

Committee Member

Zhou, Qian

Date of Degree


Document Type

Graduate Thesis - Open Access



Degree Name

Master of Science (M.S.)


College of Forest Resources


Department of Forestry


Numerous studies have evaluated the relationship between biodiversity and productivity, with general trends suggesting a positive relationship. While most studies only use species richness, this study also analyzed how productivity changes with functional diversity and Shannon’s diversity index. Functional diversity gives important context to the examination of biodiversity-productivity relationships due to the direct link between organisms’ functional traits and their role in a given ecosystem. This study used data from the USDA Forest Service Forest Inventory and Analysis (FIA) database collected in Alabama, Louisiana, and Mississippi to estimate plot-level productivity and diversity. Structural equation modeling was used to determine the strength of the relationship between measures of diversity and forest productivity. This study found that species richness had the greatest influence on forest productivity, but it was largely an indirect effect mediated by stand density. This study could be expanded spatially to include more forest types for comparison of trends.