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Complementary nitrogen use among potentially dominant species in a biodiversity experiment varies between two years


Roscher, C; Thein, S; Schmid, B; Scherer-Lorenzen, M (2008). Complementary nitrogen use among potentially dominant species in a biodiversity experiment varies between two years. Journal of Ecology, 96(3):477-488.

Abstract

1. In plant communities, a better use of nitrogen for growth and access to additional nitrogen by N2 fixing legumes have been suggested as mechanisms that contribute to the positive relationship between species richness and above-ground biomass production. We studied above-ground biomass production, and plant and soil nitrogen in a biodiversity experiment using a pool of nine potentially dominant grassland species (five grasses: Alopecurus pratensis, Arrhenatherum elatius, Dactylis glomerata, Phleum pratense, Poa trivialis; two legumes: Trifolium pratense, T. repens; two non-legume herbs: Anthriscus sylvestris, Geranium pratense) in the second and third year after establishment.
2. Total above-ground biomass and nitrogen pools increased with species richness in the second year. In the third year, the positive effect of species richness on above-ground biomass was less pronounced but still significant, while nitrogen pools did not increase with species richness.
Above-ground nitrogen pools and biomass production were significantly lower in the third year.
3. Above-ground nitrogen pools of mixtures were higher than expected from monocultures in 94% of cases and increased with the species richness of mixtures in the second year. In the third year, only 55% of the mixtures had higher nitrogen yields than expected. A significant increase in the amount of biomass produced per gram nitrogen, a decrease of soil nitrate pools and the inability of mixtures to use soil nitrate more completely than expected from monocultures indicated lower nitrogen availability in the third year. Complementary resource use was not solely dependent on the occurrence of N2 fixing legumes in mixtures, but also played a role in mixtures without legumes.
4. Synthesis. Our study shows that biodiversity effects through complementary nitrogen use can occur among potentially dominant grassland species. The degree of resource partitioning depends on growing conditions, with stronger complementarity effects under nutrient-rich conditions.

1. In plant communities, a better use of nitrogen for growth and access to additional nitrogen by N2 fixing legumes have been suggested as mechanisms that contribute to the positive relationship between species richness and above-ground biomass production. We studied above-ground biomass production, and plant and soil nitrogen in a biodiversity experiment using a pool of nine potentially dominant grassland species (five grasses: Alopecurus pratensis, Arrhenatherum elatius, Dactylis glomerata, Phleum pratense, Poa trivialis; two legumes: Trifolium pratense, T. repens; two non-legume herbs: Anthriscus sylvestris, Geranium pratense) in the second and third year after establishment.
2. Total above-ground biomass and nitrogen pools increased with species richness in the second year. In the third year, the positive effect of species richness on above-ground biomass was less pronounced but still significant, while nitrogen pools did not increase with species richness.
Above-ground nitrogen pools and biomass production were significantly lower in the third year.
3. Above-ground nitrogen pools of mixtures were higher than expected from monocultures in 94% of cases and increased with the species richness of mixtures in the second year. In the third year, only 55% of the mixtures had higher nitrogen yields than expected. A significant increase in the amount of biomass produced per gram nitrogen, a decrease of soil nitrate pools and the inability of mixtures to use soil nitrate more completely than expected from monocultures indicated lower nitrogen availability in the third year. Complementary resource use was not solely dependent on the occurrence of N2 fixing legumes in mixtures, but also played a role in mixtures without legumes.
4. Synthesis. Our study shows that biodiversity effects through complementary nitrogen use can occur among potentially dominant grassland species. The degree of resource partitioning depends on growing conditions, with stronger complementarity effects under nutrient-rich conditions.

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Additional indexing

Item Type:Journal Article, refereed, original work
Communities & Collections:07 Faculty of Science > Institute of Evolutionary Biology and Environmental Studies
Dewey Decimal Classification:570 Life sciences; biology
590 Animals (Zoology)
Language:English
Date:2008
Deposited On:26 Aug 2008 07:39
Last Modified:05 Apr 2016 12:25
Publisher:Wiley
ISSN:0022-0477
Additional Information:The attached file is a preprint (accepted version) of an article published in Journal of Ecology, 96(3):477-488, 2008.
Publisher DOI:10.1111/j.1365-2745.2008.01353.x
Permanent URL: http://doi.org/10.5167/uzh-2938

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