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

Dajana Radujković, Erik Verbruggen, Eric W. Seabloom, Michael Bahn, Lori A. Biederman, Elizabeth T. Borer, Elizabeth H. Boughton, Jane A. Catford, Matteo Campioli, Ian Donohue, Anne Ebeling, Anu Eskelinen, Philip A. Fay, Amandine Hansart, Johannes M.H. Knops, Andrew S. MacDougall, Timothy Ohlert, Harry Olde Venterink, Xavier Raynaud, Anita C. RischChristiane Roscher, Martin Schütz, Maria Lucia Silveira, Carly J. Stevens, Kevin Van Sundert, Risto Virtanen, Glenda M. Wardle, Peter D. Wragg, Sara Vicca

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

4 Scopus citations

Abstract

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.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)2713-2725
Number of pages13
JournalEcology letters
Volume24
Issue number12
DOIs
StatePublished - Dec 2021

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
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) programs, 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. This research was supported by the Research Foundation—Flanders (FWO), the European Research Council grant ERC-SyG-610028 IMBALANCE-P and Methusalem funding of the Research Council UA. We thank E. Fransen for statistical advice as well as J. Lembrechts and M. Portillo-Estrada for their help with figure editing.

Funding Information:
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) programs, 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. This research was supported by the Research Foundation—Flanders (FWO), the European Research Council grant ERC‐SyG‐610028 IMBALANCE‐P and Methusalem funding of the Research Council UA. We thank E. Fransen for statistical advice as well as J. Lembrechts and M. Portillo‐Estrada for their help with figure editing.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2021 John Wiley & Sons Ltd.

Keywords

  • N deposition
  • Nutrient Network (NutNet)
  • biomass production
  • climate
  • grasslands
  • iron
  • micronutrients
  • soil properties
  • zinc

PubMed: MeSH publication types

  • Journal Article

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