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Too Much Of A Good Thing

An ongoing experiment now in its third decade at Cedar Creek has shown that even very low levels of nitrogen fertilization can reduce plant diversity. Cedar Creek is supporting a global experimental network (The Nutrient Network, or NutNet) testing the generality of these results at 70 sites on 5 continents. Established in 2005, this collaborative experimental network was established to understand the long-term consequences of global-scale changes in climate, multiple nutrient limitation, and food web structure for grassland diversity and ecosystem functioning.

Adler, P. B., E. W. Seabloom, E. T. Borer, H. Hillebrand, Y. Hautier, A. Hector, W. S. Harpole, L. O'Halloran, J. Grace, T. Anderson, J. Bakker, L. Biederman, C. Brown, Y. Buckley, L. Calabrese, C. Chu, E. Cleland, K. Cottingham, M. Crawley, E. Damschen, K. Davies, N. DeCrappeo, P. Fay, J. Firn, P. Frater, E. Gasarch, D. Gurner, N. Hagenah, J. HilleRisLambers, J. Knops, K. La Pierre, J. Lambrinos, W. Li, A. MacDougall, R. McCulley, B. Melbourne, C. Mitchell, J. Moore, J. Morgan, B. Mortensen, J. Orrock, S. Prober, D. Pyke, A. Risch, M. Schuetz, M. Smith, C. Stevens, L. Sullivan, G. Wang, P. Wragg, J. Wright, and L. Yang. 2011. Productivity is a poor predictor of plant species richness. Science 333:1750-1753.
Cadotte, M. W., T. Jonathan Davies, J. Regetz, S. W. Kembel, E. Cleland, and T. H. Oakley. 2010. Phylogenetic diversity metrics for ecological communities: integrating species richness, abundance, and evolutionary history. Ecology Letters 13(1):96-105. doi:10.1111/j.1461-0248.2009.01405.x
Firn, J., J. L. Moore, A. S. MacDougall, E. T. Borer, E. W. Seabloom, J. HilleRisLambers, W. S. Harpole, E. E. Cleland, C. S. Brown, J. M. H. Knops, S. M. Prober, D. A. Pyke, K. A. Farrell, J. D. Bakker, L. R. O'Halloran, P. B. Adler, S. L. Collins, C. M. D'Antonio, M. J. Crawley, E. M. Wolkovich, K. J. La Pierre, B. A. Melbourne, Y. Hautier, J. W. Morgan, A. D. B. Leakey, A. Kay, R. McCulley, K. F. Davies, C. J. Stevens, C. J. Chu, K. D. Holl, J. A. Klein, P. A. Fay, N. Hagenah, K. P. Kirkman, and Y. M. Buckley. 2011. Abundance of introduced species at home predicts abundance away in herbaceous communities. Ecology Letters 14:274-281.
Lind et al. 2013. Life-history constraints in grassland plant species: a growth-defence trade-off is the norm Ecology Letters (2013) 16: 513–521
O’Halloran LR, Borer ET, Seabloom EW, MacDougall AS, Cleland EE, et al. (2013) Regional Contingencies in the Relationship between Aboveground Biomass and Litter in the World’s Grasslands. PLoS ONE 8(2): e54988. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0054988
Elizabeth Borer
Eric Seabloom
Figure 1. NutNet plots top, left to right: Val Mustair (Switzerland), Vancouver Island, BC; bottom, left to right: LTER SEV site, NWT site
Within-site dependence of plant diversity on productivity (peak live biomass dry weight) across NutNet sites, including the CDR NutNet site (Fig 2.). The inset shows the frequencies of relationships that were non-significant (thin dashed lines), linear (thick dashed lines), or concave-up or –down (solid curves). The marginal histograms show the frequency of species richness and peak live biomass across all sites. No “hump shaped” dependence of local diversity on productivity was found within sites, within regions, or across the globe.
Adler et al. 2011



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