Environmental controllers of grassland stability responses to nutrient addition

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Submission Summary

Globally, grasslands are being impacted by human activities. This is having strong impacts on the sustainability of ecosystem functioning. Fertilisation is an important driver of global change in grasslands because this disrupts belowground resource competition, eliminates uncompetitive species and reduces the stabilising effect of species diversity. Whilst there is a substantial body of evidence showing how grassland stability changes in response to anthropogenic activities and changes in diversity, whether particular environmental conditions predispose grassland community destabilisation in response to fertilisation remains poorly understood. We explored how grassland stability over consecutive three-year periods responded to fertilisation in a globally replicated experiment. Sixty-two different sites across five continents with variable climatic, management, edaphic and sward conditions were considered in this investigation. We found that African and North American grassland stability responded negatively to fertilisation. Nutrient addition increased stability in artificially created grasslands but reduced stability in grasslands with a burning regime. Soil property changes induced by nutrient addition also drove changes in stability with changes in macronutrients, but not micronutrients, being important predictors of grassland stability change. Regions, where nutrient addition reduced species asynchrony, increased compositional change and increased species evenness were also associated with stability reductions. These results will be useful for informing policy and management decisions and guidelines concerning human activities in grasslands.

Submission ID :
Submission Type
Oral Presentation
Submission Topic
Understanding and managing ecological and evolutionary processes

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