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Competition for light causes plant biodiversity loss after eutrophication


Hautier, Y; Niklaus, P A; Hector, A (2009). Competition for light causes plant biodiversity loss after eutrophication. Science, 324(5927):636-638.

Abstract

Human activities have increased the availability of nutrients in terrestrial and aquatic ecosystems.
In grasslands, this eutrophication causes loss of plant species diversity, but the mechanism of this loss has been difficult to determine. Using experimental grassland plant communities, we found that addition of light to the grassland understory prevented the loss of biodiversity caused by eutrophication. There was no detectable role for competition for soil resources in diversity loss. Thus, competition for light is a major mechanism of plant diversity loss after eutrophication and explains the particular threat of eutrophication to plant diversity. Our conclusions have implications for grassland management and conservation policy and underscore the need to control nutrient enrichment if plant diversity is to be preserved.

Abstract

Human activities have increased the availability of nutrients in terrestrial and aquatic ecosystems.
In grasslands, this eutrophication causes loss of plant species diversity, but the mechanism of this loss has been difficult to determine. Using experimental grassland plant communities, we found that addition of light to the grassland understory prevented the loss of biodiversity caused by eutrophication. There was no detectable role for competition for soil resources in diversity loss. Thus, competition for light is a major mechanism of plant diversity loss after eutrophication and explains the particular threat of eutrophication to plant diversity. Our conclusions have implications for grassland management and conservation policy and underscore the need to control nutrient enrichment if plant diversity is to be preserved.

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373 citations in Web of Science®
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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:1 May 2009
Deposited On:15 May 2009 13:14
Last Modified:05 Apr 2016 13:14
Publisher:American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS)
ISSN:0036-8075
Additional Information:The enclosed PDF is the author's version of the work. It is posted here by permission of the AAAS for personal use, not for redistribution. The definitive version was published in Science {324, May 2009, DOI:10.1126/science.1169640}. Free access to the published version is at the official URL (http://www.sciencemag.org/cgi/content/full/324/5927/636?ijkey=0Kv9EoaqcZW8U&keytype=ref&siteid=sci).
Publisher DOI:https://doi.org/10.1126/science.1169640
Official URL:http://www.sciencemag.org/cgi/content/full/324/5927/636?ijkey=0Kv9EoaqcZW8U&keytype=ref&siteid=sci
PubMed ID:19407202

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