Recovery of ecosystem functions after experimental disturbance in 73 grasslands differing in land‐use intensity, plant species richness and community composition

Schäfer, Deborah; Klaus, Valentin H.; Kleinebecker, Till; Boeddinghaus, Runa S.; Hinderling, Judith; Kandeler, Ellen; Marhan, Sven; Nowak, Sascha; Sonnemann, Ilja; Wurst, Susanne; Fischer, Markus; Hölzel, Norbert; Hamer, Ute; Prati, Daniel (2019). Recovery of ecosystem functions after experimental disturbance in 73 grasslands differing in land‐use intensity, plant species richness and community composition. Journal of Ecology, 107(6), pp. 2635-2649. Blackwell 10.1111/1365-2745.13211

[img] Text
2019_JEcol_107_2635.pdf - Published Version
Restricted to registered users only
Available under License Publisher holds Copyright.

Download (1MB) | Request a copy

Drivers of ecosystem stability have been a major topic in ecology for decades. Most studies have focused on the influence of species richness on ecosystem stability and found positive diversity‐stability relationships. However, land use and abiotic factors shape species richness and functional composition of plant communities and may override species richness‐stability relations in managed grasslands.
We analysed the relative importance of land‐use intensity (LUI), resident plant species richness and functional composition for recovery of plant communities (plant species richness, plant cover, above‐ and below‐ground biomass) and release of soil nutrients after a severe mechanical disturbance. Experimental sward disturbance was applied to 73 grassland sites along a LUI gradient in three German regions. We considered relative (ln(disturbance/control)) and absolute (disturbance − control) treatment effects. Using structural equation modelling, we disentangled direct effects of LUI and resident species richness on recovery and indirect effects via changes in functional richness.
Community‐weighted‐mean traits rarely mattered for recovery or nutrient release, while functional richness especially increased relative recovery of plant communities but also relative release of NO3‐N and NH4‐N. These effects were enhanced by increasing resident plant species richness and decreasing LUI. Next to these indirect influences of LUI and resident plant species richness via functional community composition, grasslands of high compared with grasslands of low resident plant species richness generally showed decreased recovery of plant communities. In grasslands of high LUI, absolute recovery of some aspects of plant communities was decreased. We did not find consistent differences between the relative importance of the different drivers of recovery after the first and the second season. Overall, resident species richness seemed most important for relative recovery and less important for absolute recovery, where direct effects of LUI were more common.
Synthesis. The stability of ecosystems in managed grasslands depends on more than species richness. Thus, drivers that directly affect species richness and functional community composition have to be considered when studying the stability of real‐world ecosystems. More specifically, in managed grasslands high resident species richness but also high land‐use intensity (LUI) decreased the stability of ecosystem functions, which was partially buffered by increases in functional richness.

Item Type:

Journal Article (Original Article)

Division/Institute:

08 Faculty of Science > Department of Biology > Institute of Plant Sciences (IPS) > Plant Ecology
08 Faculty of Science > Department of Biology > Institute of Plant Sciences (IPS)

UniBE Contributor:

Schäfer, Deborah; Hinderling, Judith; Fischer, Markus and Prati, Daniel

Subjects:

500 Science > 580 Plants (Botany)

ISSN:

0022-0477

Publisher:

Blackwell

Language:

English

Submitter:

Peter Alfred von Ballmoos-Haas

Date Deposited:

30 Jul 2019 16:34

Last Modified:

07 Jan 2021 11:27

Publisher DOI:

10.1111/1365-2745.13211

Uncontrolled Keywords:

agricultural grasslands; diversity-stability relationship; nutrient availability; plant community; productivity; recovery; soil disturbance

BORIS DOI:

10.7892/boris.131854

URI:

https://boris.unibe.ch/id/eprint/131854

Actions (login required)

Edit item Edit item
Provide Feedback