The extent to which biodiversity change in local assemblages contributes to global biodiversity loss is poorly understood. We analyzed 100 time series from biomes across Earth to ask how diversity within assemblages is changing through time. We quantified patterns of temporal a diversity, measured as change in local diversity, and temporal b diversity, measured as change in community composition. Contrary to our expectations, we did not detect systematic loss of a diversity. However, community composition changed systematically through time, in excess of predictions from null models. Heterogeneous rates of environmental change, species range shifts associated with climate change, and biotic homogenization may explain the different patterns of temporal a and b diversity. Monitoring and understanding change in species composition should be a conservation priority.