Biodiversity effects on nitrate concentrations in soil solution: a Bayesian model

Leimer, Sophia; Wirth, Christian; Oelmann, Yvonne; Wilcke, Wolfgang (2014). Biodiversity effects on nitrate concentrations in soil solution: a Bayesian model. Biogeochemistry, 118(1-3), pp. 141-157. Springer 10.1007/s10533-013-9913-6

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Ecosystems are faced with high rates of species loss which has consequences for their functions and services. To assess the effects of plant species diversity on the nitrogen (N) cycle, we developed a model for monthly mean nitrate (NO3-N) concentrations in soil solution in 0-30 cm mineral soil depth using plant species and functional group richness and functional composition as drivers and assessing the effects of conversion of arable land to grassland, spatially heterogeneous soil properties, and climate. We used monthly mean NO3-N concentrations from 62 plots of a grassland plant diversity experiment from 2003 to 2006. Plant species richness (1-60) and functional group composition (1-4 functional groups: legumes, grasses, non-leguminous tall herbs, non-leguminous small herbs) were manipulated in a factorial design. Plant community composition, time since conversion from arable land to grassland, soil texture, and climate data (precipitation, soil moisture, air and soil temperature) were used to develop one general Bayesian multiple regression model for the 62 plots to allow an in-depth evaluation using the experimental design. The model simulated NO3-N concentrations with an overall Bayesian coefficient of determination of 0.48. The temporal course of NO3-N concentrations was simulated differently well for the individual plots with a maximum plot-specific Nash-Sutcliffe Efficiency of 0.57. The model shows that NO3-N concentrations decrease with species richness, but this relation reverses if more than approx. 25 % of legume species are included in the mixture. Presence of legumes increases and presence of grasses decreases NO3-N concentrations compared to mixtures containing only small and tall herbs. Altogether, our model shows that there is a strong influence of plant community composition on NO3-N concentrations.

Item Type:

Journal Article (Original Article)


08 Faculty of Science > Institute of Geography

UniBE Contributor:

Leimer, Sophia and Wilcke, Wolfgang


900 History > 910 Geography & travel








Monika Wälti-Stampfli

Date Deposited:

15 Sep 2014 14:03

Last Modified:

19 Oct 2015 09:39

Publisher DOI:





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