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ARS Home » Plains Area » Fort Collins, Colorado » Center for Agricultural Resources Research » Rangeland Resources & Systems Research » Research » Publications at this Location » Publication #338382

Research Project: Improved Management to Balance Production and Conservation in Great Plains Rangelands

Location: Rangeland Resources & Systems Research

Title: Herbivory and eutrophication modulate grassland plant nutrient responses across a global climatic gradient

Author
item Anderson, T - Wake Forest University
item Griffith, Daniel - Wake Forest University
item Lind, Eric - University Of Minnesota
item Adler, Peter - Utah State University
item Biederman, Lori - Iowa State University
item Blumenthal, Dana
item Borer, Elizabeth - University Of Minnesota
item Daleo, Pedro - Universidad Nacional Del Sur (UNS)
item Firn, Jennifer - Queensland University - Australia
item Hagenah, Nicole - University Of Kwazulu-Natal
item Harpole, W - German Centre For Integrative Biodiversity Research (IDIV)
item Macdougall, Andrew - University Of Guelph
item Mcculley, Rebecca - University Of Kentucky
item Prober, Suzanne - Csiro European Laboratory
item Risch, Anita - Swiss Federal Institute
item Sankaran, Mahesh - National Centre For Integrated Pest Management
item Schutz, Martin - Swiss Federal Institute
item Seabloom, Eric - University Of Minnesota
item Stevens, Carly - Lancaster University
item Sullivan, Lauren - Iowa State University
item Wragg, Peter - University Of Minnesota
item Grace, James - Us Geological Survey (USGS)

Submitted to: Ecology
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: 12/20/2017
Publication Date: 3/31/2018
Citation: Anderson, T.M., Griffith, D.M., Lind, E.M., Adler, P.B., Biederman, L.A., Blumenthal, D.M., Borer, E.T., Daleo, P., Firn, J., Hagenah, N., Harpole, W.S., MacDougall, A.S., McCulley, R.L., Prober, S.M., Risch, A.C., Sankaran, M., Schutz, M., Seabloom, E., Stevens, C.J., Sullivan, L., Wragg, P., Grace, J.B. 2018. Herbivory and eutrophication modulate grassland plant nutrient responses across a global climatic gradient. Ecology. 99(4):822-831. doi:org/10.1002/ecy.2175.
DOI: https://doi.org/10.1002/ecy.2175

Interpretive Summary: Human activities are altering plant nutrient content around the world. We measured changes in plant nutrients with eutrophication (nutrient enrichment) and large herbivore loss at eighteen sites on five continents. Increases in plant nutrients following eutrophication were highest in fenced, ungrazed plots at low rainfall, whereas herbivores dampened community nutrient responses to fertilization. Across sites, climate and atmospheric nitrogen deposition strongly influenced plot-level nutrients. Within sites, fertilization increased plot biomass but also the response also depended on soil fertility. Our study highlights (i) the role of climate in determining grassland nutrient content across global gradient through effects on plant biomass, (ii) that eutrophication affects grassland nutrients via both soil and atmospheric pathways and (iii) interactions among soils, herbivores and eutrophication drive plant nutrient responses at small scales, especially at water-limited sites.

Technical Abstract: Human activities are altering plant stoichiometry in terrestrial systems. We measured plant nutrient responses (C, N, P and K) to eutrophication and large herbivore loss at eighteen sites on five continents. Nutrients pools diverged strongly in response to herbivore removal when fertilized: response ratios were highest in fenced, ungrazed plots at low rainfall, whereas herbivores dampened community nutrient responses to eutrophication. Across sites, climate and atmospheric N deposition emerged as strong predictors of plot-level nutrients, mediated by both biomass and plant chemistry. Within sites, fertilization increased plot biomass but also interacted with soil fertility. Our study highlights (i) the role of climate in determining grassland stoichiometry across global gradient through effects on plant biomass, (ii) that eutrophication affects grassland stoichiometry via both soil and atmospheric pathways and (iii) interactions among soils, herbivores and eutrophication drive plant nutrient responses at small scales, especially at water-limited sites.