Nutrient identity modifies the destabilising effects of eutrophication in grasslands

Oliver Carroll, Evan Batzer, Siddharth Bharath, Elizabeth T. Borer, Sofía Campana, Ellen Esch, Yann Hautier, Timothy Ohlert, Eric W. Seabloom, Peter B. Adler, Jonathan D. Bakker, Lori Biederman, Miguel N. Bugalho, Maria Caldeira, Qingqing Chen, Kendi F. Davies, Philip A. Fay, Johannes M.H. Knops, Kimberly Komatsu, Jason P. MartinaKevin S. McCann, Joslin L. Moore, John W. Morgan, Taofeek O. Muraina, Brooke Osborne, Anita C. Risch, Carly Stevens, Peter A. Wilfahrt, Laura Yahdjian, Andrew S. MacDougall

Research output: Contribution to journalLetterpeer-review

1 Scopus citations

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.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)754-765
Number of pages12
JournalEcology letters
Volume25
Issue number4
DOIs
StatePublished - Apr 2022

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
Funding for O.C., E.E. and A.S.M. was provided by the Canada First Research Excellence Fund, the University of Guelph's ‘Food From Thought’ programme and the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada. This work was generated using data from the Nutrient Network ( http://www.nutnet.org ) experiment, funded at the site‐scale by individual researchers. Coordination and data management have been supported by funding to E. Borer and E. Seabloom from the National Science Foundation Research Coordination Network (NSF‐DEB‐1042132) and Long Term Ecological Research (NSF‐DEB‐1234162 and NSF‐DEB‐1831944 to Cedar Creek LTER) programmes, and the Institute on the Environment (DG‐0001‐13). We also thank the Minnesota Supercomputer Institute for hosting project data and the Institute on the Environment for hosting Network meetings. Any use of trade, product, or firm names is for descriptive purposes only and does not imply endorsement by the U.S. Government.

Funding Information:
Funding for O.C., E.E. and A.S.M. was provided by the Canada First Research Excellence Fund, the University of Guelph's ?Food From Thought? programme and the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada. This work was generated using data from the Nutrient Network (http://www.nutnet.org) experiment, funded at the site-scale by individual researchers. Coordination and data management have been supported by funding to E. Borer and E. Seabloom from the National Science Foundation Research Coordination Network (NSF-DEB-1042132) and Long Term Ecological Research (NSF-DEB-1234162 and NSF-DEB-1831944 to Cedar Creek LTER) programmes, and the Institute on the Environment (DG-0001-13). We also thank the Minnesota Supercomputer Institute for hosting project data and the Institute on the Environment for hosting Network meetings. Any use of trade, product, or firm names is for descriptive purposes only and does not imply endorsement by the U.S. Government.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2021 John Wiley & Sons Ltd.

Keywords

  • biodiversity loss
  • biomass
  • co-limitation
  • ecosystem function
  • ecosystem stability
  • nutrient Network (NutNet)
  • nutrient enrichment
  • synchrony
  • variability

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