Arising from: Bai, Y., Han, X., Wu, J., Chen, Z. & Li, L. Nature, 431, 181-184 (2004); see also communication from Guo; Wang et al. Some of our findings are questioned by Wang et al., on the basis that we use inconsistent data and fail to distinguish spatial heterogeneity effects. Here we show that both claims are unfounded. We also address the questions raised by Guo concerning how the steppe communities vary as they mature.
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