Direct and indirect associations between plant species richness and productivity in grasslands: regional differences preclude simple generalization of productivity-biodiversity relationships

Klaus, Valentin H.; Hölzel, Norbert; Boch, Steffen; Müller, Jörg; Socher, Stephanie A.; Prati, Daniel; Fischer, Markus; Kleinebecker, Till (2013). Direct and indirect associations between plant species richness and productivity in grasslands: regional differences preclude simple generalization of productivity-biodiversity relationships. Preslia, 85(2), pp. 97-112. Praha: Czech Botanical Society

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Plant species richness of permanent grasslands has often been found to be significantly associated with productivity. Concentrations of nutrients in biomass can give further insight into these productivity- plant species richness relationships, e.g. by reflecting land use or soil characteristics. However, the consistency of such relationships across different regions has rarely been taken into account, which might significantly compromise our potential for generalization. We recorded plant species richness and measured above-ground biomass and concentrations of nutrients in biomass in 295 grasslands in three regions in Germany that differ in soil and climatic conditions. Structural equation modelling revealed that nutrient concentrations were mostly indirectly associated with plant species richness via biomass production. However, negative associations between the concentrations of different nutrients and biomass and plant species richness differed considerably among regions. While in two regions, more than 40% of the variation in plant species richness could be attributed to variation in biomass, K, P, and to some degree also N concentrations, in the third region only 15% of the variation could be explained in this way. Generally, highest plant species richness was recorded in grasslands where N and P were co-limiting plant growth, in contrast to N or K (co-) limitation. But again, this pattern was not recorded in the third region. While for two regions land-use intensity and especially the application of fertilizers are suggested to be the main drivers causing the observed negative associations with productivity, in the third region the little variance accounted for, low species richness and weak relationships implied that former intensive grassland management, ongoing mineralization of peat and fluctuating water levels in fen grasslands have overruled effects of current land-use intensity and productivity. Finally, we conclude that regional replication is of major importance for studies seeking general insights into productivity-diversity relationships.

Item Type:

Journal Article (Original Article)

Division/Institute:

10 Strategic Research Centers > Oeschger Centre for Climate Change Research (OCCR)
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:

Boch, Steffen; Socher, Stephanie; Prati, Daniel and Fischer, Markus

Subjects:

500 Science > 580 Plants (Botany)

ISSN:

0032-7786

Publisher:

Czech Botanical Society

Language:

English

Submitter:

Peter Alfred von Ballmoos-Haas

Date Deposited:

30 Oct 2013 17:13

Last Modified:

04 Dec 2014 23:03

Uncontrolled Keywords:

anthropogenic effect, Biodiversity Exploratories project, fen grasslands, generalizability, land-use history, nitrogen, phosphorus, potassium, plant species richness, structural equation modeling

BORIS DOI:

10.7892/boris.38709

URI:

https://boris.unibe.ch/id/eprint/38709

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