Soil properties as key predictors of global grassland production: Have we overlooked micronutrients?

Biederman, Lori
Verbruggen, Erik
Seabloom, Eric W
Bahn, Michael
Biederman, Lori
Borer, Elizabeth T
Boughton, Elizabeth H
Catford, Jane A
Campioli, Matteo
Donohue, Ian
Ebeling, Anne
Eskelinen, Anu
Fay, Philip A
Hansart, Amandine
Knops, Johannes M H
MacDougall, Andrew S
Ohlert, Timothy
Olde Venterink, Harry
Raynaud, Xavier
Risch, Anita C
Roscher, Christiane
Schütz, Martin
Silveira, Maria Lucia
Stevens, Carly J
Van Sundert, Kevin
Virtanen, Risto
Wardle, Glenda M
Wragg, Peter D
Vicca, Sara
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Ecology, Evolution and Organismal Biology
Fertilisation experiments have demonstrated that nutrient availability is a key determinant of biomass production and carbon sequestration in grasslands. However, the influence of nutrients in explaining spatial variation in grassland biomass production has rarely been assessed. Using a global dataset comprising 72 sites on six continents, we investigated which of 16 soil factors that shape nutrient availability associate most strongly with variation in grassland aboveground biomass. Climate and N deposition were also considered. Based on theory-driven structural equation modelling, we found that soil micronutrients (particularly Zn and Fe) were important predictors of biomass and, together with soil physicochemical properties and C:N, they explained more unique variation (32%) than climate and N deposition (24%). However, the association between micronutrients and biomass was absent in grasslands limited by NP. These results highlight soil properties as key predictors of global grassland biomass production and point to serial co-limitation by NP and micronutrients.
This article is published as Radujković, Dajana, Erik Verbruggen, Eric W. Seabloom, Michael Bahn, Lori A. Biederman, Elizabeth T. Borer, Elizabeth H. Boughton et al. "Soil properties as key predictors of global grassland production: Have we overlooked micronutrients?." Ecology Letters 24 (2021): 2713-2725. doi:10.1111/ele.13894. Works produced by employees of the U.S. Government as part of their official duties are not copyrighted within the U.S. The content of this document is not copyrighted.
N deposition, Nutrient Network (NutNet), biomass production, climate, iron, micronutrients, grasslands, soil properties, zinc