Temporal and small-scale spatial variation in grassland productivity, biomass quality, and nutrient limitation

Klaus, Valentin H.; Boch, Steffen; Boeddinghaus, Runa S.; Hölzel, Norbert; Kandeler, Ellen; Marhan, Sven; Oelmann, Yvonne; Prati, Daniel; Regan, Kathleen M.; Schmitt, Barbara; Sorkau, Elisabeth; Kleinebecker, Till (2016). Temporal and small-scale spatial variation in grassland productivity, biomass quality, and nutrient limitation. Plant Ecology, 217(7), pp. 843-856. Springer 10.1007/s11258-016-0607-8

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Characterization of spatial and temporal variation in grassland productivity and nutrition is crucial for a comprehensive understanding of ecosystem function. Although within-site heterogeneity in soil and plant properties has been shown to be relevant for plant community stability, spatiotemporal variability in these factors is still understudied in temperate grasslands. Our study aimed to detect if soil characteristics and plant diversity could explain observed small-scale spatial and temporal variability in grassland productivity, biomass nutrient concentrations, and nutrient limitation. Therefore, we sampled 360 plots of 20 cm × 20 cm each at six consecutive dates in an unfertilized grassland in Southern Germany. Nutrient limitation was estimated using nutrient ratios in plant biomass. Absolute values of, and spatial variability in, productivity, biomass nutrient concentrations, and nutrient limitation were strongly associated with sampling date. In April, spatial heterogeneity was high and most plots showed phosphorous deficiency, while later in the season nitrogen was the major limiting nutrient. Additionally, a small significant positive association between plant diversity and biomass phosphorus concentrations was observed, but should be tested in more detail. We discuss how low biological activity e.g., of soil microbial organisms might have influenced observed heterogeneity of plant nutrition in early spring in combination with reduced active acquisition of soil resources by plants. These early-season conditions are particularly relevant for future studies as they differ substantially from more thoroughly studied later season conditions. Our study underlines the importance of considering small spatial scales and temporal variability to better elucidate mechanisms of ecosystem functioning and plant community assembly.

Item Type:

Journal Article (Original Article)

Division/Institute:

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

UniBE Contributor:

Boch, Steffen; Prati, Daniel and Schmitt, Barbara

Subjects:

500 Science > 580 Plants (Botany)

ISSN:

1385-0237

Publisher:

Springer

Language:

English

Submitter:

Peter Alfred von Ballmoos-Haas

Date Deposited:

19 May 2016 08:13

Last Modified:

26 Aug 2019 09:11

Publisher DOI:

10.1007/s11258-016-0607-8

Related URLs:

Uncontrolled Keywords:

Nitrogen; Phosphorus; Biodiversity Exploratories Project; Nutrient concentrations; Biodiversity–ecosystem functioning; Growth limitation

BORIS DOI:

10.7892/boris.82024

URI:

https://boris.unibe.ch/id/eprint/82024

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