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Nutrient identity modifies the destabilising effects of eutrophication in grasslands

January 14, 2022

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.

Publication Year 2022
Title Nutrient identity modifies the destabilising effects of eutrophication in grasslands
DOI 10.1111/ele.13946
Authors 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 A. Biederman, Miguel N. Bugalho, Maria Caldeira, Qingqing Chen, Kendi F. Davies, Philip A. Fay, Johannes M. H. Knops, Kimberly Komatsu, Jason P. Martina, Kevin S. McCann, Joslin L. Moore, John W. Morgan, Taofeek O. Muraina, Brooke Bossert Osborne, Anita C. Risch, Carly J. Stevens, Peter A. Wilfahrt, Laura Yahdjian, Andrew S. MacDougall
Publication Type Article
Publication Subtype Journal Article
Series Title Ecology Letters
Index ID 70227428
Record Source USGS Publications Warehouse
USGS Organization Southwest Biological Science Center