Impacts of nitrogen addition on plant biodiversity in mountain grasslands depend on dose, application duration and climate: a systematic review

Humbert, Jean-Yves; Dwyer, John M.; Andrey, Aline; Arlettaz, Raphaël (2016). Impacts of nitrogen addition on plant biodiversity in mountain grasslands depend on dose, application duration and climate: a systematic review. Global Change Biology, 22(1), pp. 110-120. Blackwell Science 10.1111/gcb.12986

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Although the influence of nitrogen (N) addition on grassland plant communities has been widely studied, it is still unclear whether observed patterns and underlying mechanisms are constant across biomes. In this systematic review, we use meta-analysis and metaregression to investigate the influence of N addition (here referring mostly to fertilization) upon the biodiversity of temperate mountain grasslands (including montane, subalpine and alpine zones). Forty-two studies met our criteria of inclusion, resulting in 134 measures of effect size. The main general responses of mountain grasslands to N addition were increases in phytomass and reductions in plant species richness, as observed in lowland grasslands. More specifically, the analysis reveals that negative effects on species richness were exacerbated by dose (ha⁻⁻1 year⁻1) and duration of N application (years) in an additive manner. Thus, sustained application of low to moderate levels of N over time had effects similar to short-term application of high N doses. The climatic context also played an important role: the overall effects of N addition on plant species richness and diversity (Shannon index) were less pronounced in mountain grasslands experiencing cool rather than warm summers. Furthermore, the relative negative effect of N addition on species richness was more pronounced in managed communities and was strongly negatively related to N-induced increases in phytomass, that is the greater the phytomass response to N addition, the greater the decline in richness. Altogether, this review not only establishes that plant biodiversity of mountain grasslands is negatively affected by N addition, but also demonstrates that several local management and abiotic factors interact with N addition to drive plant community changes. This synthesis yields essential information for a more sustainable management of mountain grasslands, emphasizing the importance of preserving and restoring grasslands with both low agricultural N application and limited exposure to N atmospheric deposition.

Item Type:

Journal Article (Review Article)

Division/Institute:

08 Faculty of Science > Department of Biology > Institute of Ecology and Evolution (IEE)
08 Faculty of Science > Department of Biology > Institute of Ecology and Evolution (IEE) > Conservation Biology

UniBE Contributor:

Humbert, Jean-Yves; Andrey, Aline and Arlettaz, Raphaël

Subjects:

500 Science > 570 Life sciences; biology
500 Science > 580 Plants (Botany)

ISSN:

1354-1013

Publisher:

Blackwell Science

Language:

English

Submitter:

Olivier Roth

Date Deposited:

12 Jul 2017 08:14

Last Modified:

12 Jul 2017 08:14

Publisher DOI:

10.1111/gcb.12986

PubMed ID:

26010833

BORIS DOI:

10.7892/boris.93799

URI:

https://boris.unibe.ch/id/eprint/93799

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