Spatial turnover of multiple ecosystem functions is more associated with plant than soil microbial β-diversity

Xin Jing, Case M. Prager, Elizabeth T. Borer, Nicholas J. Gotelli, Daniel S. Gruner, Jin Sheng He, Kevin Kirkman, Andrew S. MacDougall, Rebecca L. McCulley, Suzanne M. Prober, Eric W. Seabloom, Carly J. Stevens, Aimée T. Classen, Nathan J. Sanders

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

6 Scopus citations

Abstract

Biodiversity—both above- and belowground—influences multiple functions in terrestrial ecosystems. Yet, it is unclear whether differences in above- and belowground species composition (β-diversity) are associated with differences in multiple ecosystem functions (e.g., spatial turnover in ecosystem function). Here, we partitioned the contributions of above- and belowground β-diversity and abiotic factors (geographic distance, differences in environments) on the spatial turnover of multiple grassland ecosystem functions. We compiled a dataset of plant and soil microbial communities and six indicators of grassland ecosystem functions (i.e., plant aboveground live biomass, plant nitrogen [N], plant phosphorus [P], root biomass, soil total N, and soil extractable P) from 18 grassland sites on four continents contributing to the Nutrient Network experiment. We used Mantel tests and structural equation models to disentangle the relationship between above- and belowground β-diversity and spatial turnover in grassland ecosystem functions. We found that the effects of abiotic factors on the spatial turnover of ecosystem functions were largely indirect through their influences on above- and belowground β-diversity, and that spatial turnover of ecosystem function was more strongly associated with plant β-diversity than with soil microbial β-diversity. These results indicate that changes in above- and belowground species composition are one mechanism that interacts with environmental change to determine variability in multiple ecosystem functions across spatial scales. As grasslands face global threats from shrub encroachment, conversion to agriculture, or are lost to development, the functions and services they provide will more strongly converge with increased aboveground community homogenization than with soil microbial community homogenization.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numbere03644
JournalEcosphere
Volume12
Issue number7
DOIs
StatePublished - Jul 1 2021

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
We thank N. Fierer for providing soil microbial data from the Nutrient Network and E.M. Lind for assistance in compiling the Nutrient Network data. We also thank the Minnesota Supercomputer Institute for hosting project data and the Institute on the Environment for hosting Network meetings. NJS was supported by a Semper Ardens grant from Carlsberg Foundation. 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). Author contributions: XJ, NJS, ATC, CMP, ETB, NJG, and J‐SH developed the research questions. XJ analyzed the data with inputs from CMP, NJG, and NJS. XJ wrote the paper with contributions from all authors. ETB and EWS are Nutrient Network coordinators. Author contribution table is attached as Appendix S1 : Table S6. The authors declare no competing financial or non‐financial interests.

Funding Information:
We thank N. Fierer for providing soil microbial data from the Nutrient Network and E.M. Lind for assistance in compiling the Nutrient Network data. We also thank the Minnesota Supercomputer Institute for hosting project data and the Institute on the Environment for hosting Network meetings. NJS was supported by a Semper Ardens grant from Carlsberg Foundation. 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). Author contributions: XJ, NJS, ATC, CMP, ETB, NJG, and J-SH developed the research questions. XJ analyzed the data with inputs from CMP, NJG, and NJS. XJ wrote the paper with contributions from all authors. ETB and EWS are Nutrient Network coordinators. Author contribution table is attached as Appendix?S1: Table?S6. The authors declare no competing financial or non-financial interests.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2021 The Authors.

Keywords

  • Nutrient Network
  • aboveground–belowground linkages
  • ecosystem functions
  • grasslands
  • multifunctionality
  • soil fungi and bacteria
  • β-diversity

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