Theory predicts positive effects of species richness on the productivity of plant communities through complementary resource use and facilitative interactions between species. Results from manipulative experiments with tropical tree species indicate a positive diversity–productivity relationship (DPR), but the existing evidence from natural forests
is scarce and contradictory. We studied forest aboveground productivity in more than 80 humid tropical montane oldgrowth forests in two highly diverse Andean regions with large geological and topographic heterogeneity and related productivity to tree diversity and climatic, edaphic and stand
structural factors with a likely influence on productivity. Main determinants of wood production in the perhumid study regions were elevation (as a proxy for temperature), soil nutrient (N, P and base cation) availability and forest structural parameters (wood specific gravity, aboveground biomass). Tree diversity had only a small positive influence on productivity, even though tree species numbers varied largely (6–27 species per 0.04 ha). We conclude that the productivity of highly diverse Neotropical montane forests is primarily controlled by thermal and edaphic factors and stand structural properties, while tree diversity is of minor importance.