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Ecological mechanisms associated with the positive diversity-productivity relationship in an N-limited grassland

Biomedical Sciences Research Institute Computer Science Research Institute Environmental Sciences Research Institute Nanotechnology & Advanced Materials Research Institute

Fornara, D. A. and Tilman, D. (2009) Ecological mechanisms associated with the positive diversity-productivity relationship in an N-limited grassland. ECOLOGY, 90 (2). pp. 408-418. [Journal article]

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Abstract

In a 13-year grassland biodiversity experiment in Minnesota, USA, we addressed two main questions: What set of ecological mechanisms caused aboveground productivity to become; 340% greater in highly diverse plant mixtures than in the average monoculture? Why did the effect of diversity on productivity become so much stronger through time? Because our grassland system is N limited, we simultaneously measured critical variables associated with the storage and cycling of this element, such as plant and soil N pools, soil N availability, soil N mineralization rates, and plant N-use efficiency, as well as the initial soil N concentration of each diversity plot when the experiment was established in 1994. We used linear and multiple regression analyses to test for potential effects of these variables on aboveground productivity and to address whether and how such variables were in turn affected by plant species diversity and functional composition across years and also at different time intervals within the same year. We found that seven variables simultaneously controlled productivity: (1) initial total soil nitrogen (N) of each plot, (2) diversity-dependent increases in total soil N through time, ( 3) soil N mineralization rates, (4) soil nitrate (NO3-) utilization, (5) increases in plant N-use efficiency at greater plant diversity, (6) legume presence, and (7) higher species numbers. The surprising continued significance of higher plant diversity may occur because of its effects on seasonal capture of soil NO3- and moisture and on the accumulation of root-N pools, all of which may have also increased productivity through time at higher species numbers.

Item Type:Journal article
Faculties and Schools:Faculty of Life and Health Sciences
Faculty of Life and Health Sciences > School of Environmental Sciences
Research Institutes and Groups:Environmental Sciences Research Institute
Environmental Sciences Research Institute > Terrestrial Ecology
ID Code:453
Deposited By:Dr Dario Fornara
Deposited On:13 Jan 2010 14:06
Last Modified:28 Mar 2012 15:51

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