Out of the shadows: multiple nutrient limitations drive relationships among biomass, light and plant diversity

Harpole, W. Stanley; Sullivan, Lauren L.; Lind, Eric M.; Firn, Jennifer; Adler, Peter B.; Borer, Elizabeth T.; Chase, Jonathan; Fay, Philip A.; Hautier, Yann; Hillebrand, Helmut; MacDougall, Andrew S.; Seabloom, Eric W.; Bakker, Jonathan D.; Cadotte, Marc W.; Chaneton, Enrique Jose; Chu, Chengjin; Hagenah, Nicole; Kirkman, Kevin; La Pierre, Kimberly J.; Moore, Joslin L.; Morgan, John W.; Prober, Suzanne M.; Risch, Anita C.; Schuetz, Martin; Stevens, Carly J.
Publication Year
Published version
The paradigmatic hypothesis for the effect of fertilisation on plant diversity represents a one-dimensional trade-off for plants competing for below-ground nutrients (generically) and above-ground light: fertilisation reduces competition for nutrients while increasing biomass and thereby shifts competition for depleted available light. The essential problem of this simple paradigm is that it misses both the multivariate and mechanistic nature of the factors that determine biodiversity as well as their causal relationships. We agree that light limitation, as DeMalach and Kadmon argue, can indeed be an important factor associated with diversity loss, and we presented it as an integral part of our tests of the niche dimension hypothesis. We disagree with DeMalach and Kadmon that light is the ‘main’ factor explaining diversity, because this misrepresents the causal structure represented in the design of our experiment in which multiple nutrient addition was the ultimate causal driver of a suite of correlated responses that included diversity and light, and especially live and dead biomass, which are the factors that control light depletion. Our findings highlight that multiple nutrient limitations can structure plant diversity and composition independently of changes in light and biomass. For example, approximately one-third of our sites showed no significant increase in biomass with greater number of added nutrients yet still lost diversity when nutrients were added. The important message is that while light limitation can be an important contributor to diversity loss, it is not a necessary mechanism.
Fil: Harpole, W. Stanley. Helmholtz Center for Environmental Research; Alemania
Fil: Sullivan, Lauren L.. University of Minnesota; Estados Unidos
Fil: Lind, Eric M.. University of Minnesota; Estados Unidos
Fil: Firn, Jennifer. Queensland University of Technology; Australia
Fil: Adler, Peter B.. State University of Utah; Estados Unidos
Fil: Borer, Elizabeth T.. University of Minnesota; Estados Unidos
Fil: Chase, Jonathan. Martin Luther University Halle Wittenberg; Alemania
Fil: Fay, Philip A.. USDA-ARS Grassland Soil and Water Research Lab; Estados Unidos
Fil: Hautier, Yann. Utrecht University; Países Bajos
Fil: Hillebrand, Helmut. University of Oldenburg; Alemania
Fil: MacDougall, Andrew S.. University of Guelph; Canadá
Fil: Seabloom, Eric W.. University of Minnesota; Estados Unidos
Fil: Bakker, Jonathan D.. University of Washington; Estados Unidos
Fil: Cadotte, Marc W.. University of Toronto; Canadá
Fil: Chaneton, Enrique Jose. Consejo Nacional de Investigaciones Científicas y Técnicas. Oficina de Coordinación Administrativa Parque Centenario. Instituto de Investigaciones Fisiológicas y Ecológicas Vinculadas a la Agricultura. Universidad de Buenos Aires. Facultad de Agronomía; Argentina
Fil: Chu, Chengjin. Sun Yat-sen University; China
Fil: Hagenah, Nicole. University of KwaZulu-Natal; Sudáfrica
Fil: Kirkman, Kevin. University of KwaZulu-Natal; Sudáfrica
Fil: La Pierre, Kimberly J.. Smithsonian Environmental Research Center; Estados Unidos
Fil: Moore, Joslin L.. Monash University; Australia
Fil: Morgan, John W.. La Trobe University; Australia
Fil: Prober, Suzanne M.. CSIRO Land and Water; Australia
Fil: Risch, Anita C.. Swiss Federal Institute for Forest, Snow and Landscape Research; Suiza
Fil: Schuetz, Martin. Swiss Federal Institute for Forest, Snow and Landscape Research; Suiza
Fil: Stevens, Carly J.. Lancaster University; Reino Unido
Otras Ciencias Biológicas
Ciencias Biológicas
Access level
Restricted access
Consejo Nacional de Investigaciones Científicas y Técnicas
OAI Identifier