Nutrient identity modifies the destabilising effects of eutrophication in grasslands

Date
2021-12-27
Authors
Carroll, Oliver
Biederman, Lori
Fay, Philip A.
Osborne, Brooke
et al.
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Ecology, Evolution and Organismal Biology
Abstract
Nutrient enrichment can simultaneously increase and destabilise plant biomass production, with co-limitation by multiple nutrients potentially intensifying these effects. Here, we test how factorial additions of nitrogen (N), phosphorus (P) and potassium with essential nutrients (K+) affect the stability (mean/standard deviation) of aboveground biomass in 34 grasslands over 7 years. Destabilisation with fertilisation was prevalent but was driven by single nutrients, not synergistic nutrient interactions. On average, N-based treatments increased mean biomass production by 21–51% but increased its standard deviation by 40–68% and so consistently reduced stability. Adding P increased interannual variability and reduced stability without altering mean biomass, while K+ had no general effects. Declines in stability were largest in the most nutrient-limited grasslands, or where nutrients reduced species richness or intensified species synchrony. We show that nutrients can differentially impact the stability of biomass production, with N and P in particular disproportionately increasing its interannual variability.
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This article is published as Carroll, Oliver, Evan Batzer, Siddharth Bharath, Elizabeth T. Borer, Sofía Campana, Ellen Esch, Yann Hautier et al. "Nutrient identity modifies the destabilising effects of eutrophication in grasslands." Ecology Letters (2021). doi:10.1111/ele.13946. 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.
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biodiversity loss, biomass, co-limitation, ecosystem function, ecosystem stability, nutrient enrichment, nutrient Network (NutNet), synchrony, variability
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