Seasonal shifts from plant diversity to consumer control of grassland productivity

Max M. Zaret, Molly A. Kuhs, Jonathan C. Anderson, Eric W. Seabloom, Elizabeth T. Borer, Linda L. Kinkel

Research output: Contribution to journalComment/debatepeer-review

Abstract

Plant biodiversity and consumers are important mediators of energy and carbon fluxes in grasslands, but their effects on within-season variation of plant biomass production are poorly understood. Here we measure variation in control of plant biomass by consumers and plant diversity throughout the growing season and their impact on plant biomass phenology. To do this, we analysed 5 years of biweekly biomass measures (NDVI) in an experiment manipulating plant species richness and three consumer groups (foliar fungi, soil fungi and arthropods). Positive plant diversity effects on biomass were greatest early in the growing season, whereas the foliar fungicide and insecticide treatments increased biomass most late in the season. Additionally, diverse plots and plots containing foliar fungi reached maximum biomass almost a month earlier than monocultures and plots treated with foliar fungicide, demonstrating the dynamic and interactive roles that biodiversity and consumers play in regulating biomass production through the growing season.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1215-1224
Number of pages10
JournalEcology letters
Volume25
Issue number5
DOIs
StatePublished - May 2022

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This work was supported by grants from the US National Science Foundation Long‐Term Ecological Research Program (LTER) including DEB‐1234162 and DEB‐1831944. Funding from UMN’s EEB Department and Cedar Creek supported MZ. We thank Nick Swornson for early input on analysis. The authors thank Troy Mielke, Susan Barrott and Dan Bahauddin for logistical support, and many Cedar Creek interns for their help with data collection.

Funding Information:
This work was supported by grants from the US National Science Foundation Long-Term Ecological Research Program (LTER) including DEB-1234162 and DEB-1831944. Funding from UMN?s EEB Department and Cedar Creek supported MZ. We thank Nick Swornson for early input on analysis. The authors thank Troy Mielke, Susan Barrott and Dan Bahauddin for logistical support, and many Cedar Creek interns for their help with data collection.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2022 The Authors. Ecology Letters published by John Wiley & Sons Ltd.

Keywords

  • biodiversity-ecosystem function
  • fungus
  • grasslands
  • insect
  • plant-consumer interaction
  • productivity
  • vegetation dynamics
  • Fungicides, Industrial
  • Grassland
  • Biomass
  • Plants
  • Biodiversity
  • Ecosystem
  • Fungi/physiology
  • Seasons

PubMed: MeSH publication types

  • Letter

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