Publications by authors named "Anita C Risch"

38 Publications

Non-Native Impacts Diversity of Pastures in South-Eastern Australia Even When Native Remains Co-Dominant.

Plants (Basel) 2021 Mar 22;10(3). Epub 2021 Mar 22.

Faculty of Science and the Centre for the Environment, Queensland University of Technology (QUT), 2 George Street, Brisbane, QLD 4001, Australia.

Lowland grassy woodlands in Australia's south-east face reductions in native plant diversity because of invasion by non-native plants. We compared the relative abundance and diversity of plant species among sites dominated by the native Kangaroo grass (KG) with sites co-dominated by the non-native African lovegrass (ALG) and KG. We found significant differences in plant species composition depending on the dominant species. Furthermore, our results revealed differences in several diversity parameters such as a lower species richness and forb diversity on sites co-dominated by ALG and KG. This was the case despite the functional similarity of both ALG and KG-both C perennial tussock grasses of a similar height. Therefore, our results highlight the critical function of the native KG in maintaining and enhancing the target plant species composition and diversity within these grassy woodlands. Herbivore grazing potentially impacts on the abundance of the dominant grass and forb species in various ways, but its impact likely differs depending on their evolutionary origin. Therefore, disentangling the role of individual herbivore groups (native-, non-native mammals, and invertebrates) on the plant community composition of the lowland grassy woodlands is essential to find appropriate grazing regimes for ALG management in these ecosystems.
View Article and Find Full Text PDF

Download full-text PDF

Source
http://dx.doi.org/10.3390/plants10030596DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8005164PMC
March 2021

Fertilized graminoids intensify negative drought effects on grassland productivity.

Glob Chang Biol 2021 Jun 21;27(11):2441-2457. Epub 2021 Mar 21.

Department of Soil and Environment, Sveriges Landbruksuniversitet (SLU), Uppsala, Sweden.

Droughts can strongly affect grassland productivity and biodiversity, but responses differ widely. Nutrient availability may be a critical factor explaining this variation, but is often ignored in analyses of drought responses. Here, we used a standardized nutrient addition experiment covering 10 European grasslands to test if full-factorial nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium addition affected plant community responses to inter-annual variation in drought stress and to the extreme summer drought of 2018 in Europe. We found that nutrient addition amplified detrimental drought effects on community aboveground biomass production. Drought effects also differed between functional groups, with a negative effect on graminoid but not forb biomass production. Our results imply that eutrophication in grasslands, which promotes dominance of drought-sensitive graminoids over forbs, amplifies detrimental drought effects. In terms of climate change adaptation, agricultural management would benefit from taking into account differential drought impacts on fertilized versus unfertilized grasslands, which differ in ecosystem services they provide to society.
View Article and Find Full Text PDF

Download full-text PDF

Source
http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/gcb.15583DOI Listing
June 2021

Evaluating long-term success in grassland restoration: an ecosystem multifunctionality approach.

Ecol Appl 2021 04 23;31(3):e02271. Epub 2021 Feb 23.

Community Ecology, Swiss Federal Institute for Forest, Snow and Landscape Research (WSL), Birmensdorf, 8903, Switzerland.

It is generally assumed that restoring biodiversity will enhance diversity and ecosystem functioning. However, to date, it has rarely been evaluated whether and how restoration efforts manage to rebuild biodiversity and multiple ecosystem functions (ecosystem multifunctionality) simultaneously. Here, we quantified how three restoration methods of increasing intervention intensity (harvest only < topsoil removal < topsoil removal + propagule addition) affected grassland ecosystem multifunctionality 22 yr after the restoration event. We compared restored with intensively managed and targeted seminatural grasslands based on 13 biotic and abiotic, above- and belowground properties. We found that all three restoration methods improved ecosystem multifunctionality compared to intensively managed grasslands and developed toward the targeted seminatural grasslands. However, whereas higher levels of intervention intensity reached ecosystem multifunctionality of targeted seminatural grasslands after 22 yr, lower intervention missed this target. Moreover, we found that topsoil removal with and without seed addition accelerated the recovery of biotic and aboveground properties, and we found no negative long-term effects on abiotic or belowground properties despite removing the top layer of the soil. We also evaluated which ecosystem properties were the best indicators for restoration success in terms of accuracy and cost efficiency. Overall, we demonstrated that low-cost measures explained relatively more variation of ecosystem multifunctionality compared to high-cost measures. Plant species richness was the most accurate individual property in describing ecosystem multifunctionality, as it accounted for 54% of ecosystem multifunctionality at only 4% of the costs of our comprehensive multifunctionality approach. Plant species richness is the property that typically is used in restoration monitoring by conservation agencies. Vegetation structure, soil carbon storage and water-holding capacity together explained 70% of ecosystem multifunctionality at only twice the costs (8%) of plant species richness, which is, in our opinion, worth considering in future restoration monitoring projects. Hence, our findings provide a guideline for land managers how they could obtain an accurate estimate of aboveground-belowground ecosystem multifunctionality and restoration success in a highly cost-efficient way.
View Article and Find Full Text PDF

Download full-text PDF

Source
http://dx.doi.org/10.1002/eap.2271DOI Listing
April 2021

General destabilizing effects of eutrophication on grassland productivity at multiple spatial scales.

Nat Commun 2020 10 23;11(1):5375. Epub 2020 Oct 23.

Department of Ecology, Evolution, and Behavior, University of MN, St. Paul, MN, 55108, USA.

Eutrophication is a widespread environmental change that usually reduces the stabilizing effect of plant diversity on productivity in local communities. Whether this effect is scale dependent remains to be elucidated. Here, we determine the relationship between plant diversity and temporal stability of productivity for 243 plant communities from 42 grasslands across the globe and quantify the effect of chronic fertilization on these relationships. Unfertilized local communities with more plant species exhibit greater asynchronous dynamics among species in response to natural environmental fluctuations, resulting in greater local stability (alpha stability). Moreover, neighborhood communities that have greater spatial variation in plant species composition within sites (higher beta diversity) have greater spatial asynchrony of productivity among communities, resulting in greater stability at the larger scale (gamma stability). Importantly, fertilization consistently weakens the contribution of plant diversity to both of these stabilizing mechanisms, thus diminishing the positive effect of biodiversity on stability at differing spatial scales. Our findings suggest that preserving grassland functional stability requires conservation of plant diversity within and among ecological communities.
View Article and Find Full Text PDF

Download full-text PDF

Source
http://dx.doi.org/10.1038/s41467-020-19252-4DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7585434PMC
October 2020

Increasing effects of chronic nutrient enrichment on plant diversity loss and ecosystem productivity over time.

Ecology 2021 02 18;102(2):e03218. Epub 2021 Jan 18.

Department of Ecology, Evolution, and Behavior, University of Minnesota, St. Paul, Minnesota, 55108, USA.

Human activities are enriching many of Earth's ecosystems with biologically limiting mineral nutrients such as nitrogen (N) and phosphorus (P). In grasslands, this enrichment generally reduces plant diversity and increases productivity. The widely demonstrated positive effect of diversity on productivity suggests a potential negative feedback, whereby nutrient-induced declines in diversity reduce the initial gains in productivity arising from nutrient enrichment. In addition, plant productivity and diversity can be inhibited by accumulations of dead biomass, which may be altered by nutrient enrichment. Over longer time frames, nutrient addition may increase soil fertility by increasing soil organic matter and nutrient pools. We examined the effects of 5-11 yr of nutrient addition at 47 grasslands in 12 countries. Nutrient enrichment increased aboveground live biomass and reduced plant diversity at nearly all sites, and these effects became stronger over time. We did not find evidence that nutrient-induced losses of diversity reduced the positive effects of nutrients on biomass; however, nutrient effects on live biomass increased more slowly at sites where litter was also increasing, regardless of plant diversity. This work suggests that short-term experiments may underestimate the long-term nutrient enrichment effects on global grassland ecosystems.
View Article and Find Full Text PDF

Download full-text PDF

Source
http://dx.doi.org/10.1002/ecy.3218DOI Listing
February 2021

Global impacts of fertilization and herbivore removal on soil net nitrogen mineralization are modulated by local climate and soil properties.

Glob Chang Biol 2020 Dec 22;26(12):7173-7185. Epub 2020 Sep 22.

Grupo de Investigaciones en Biología de la Conservación, INIBIOMA (CONICET-UNCOMA), Bariloche, Argentina.

Soil nitrogen (N) availability is critical for grassland functioning. However, human activities have increased the supply of biologically limiting nutrients, and changed the density and identity of mammalian herbivores. These anthropogenic changes may alter net soil N mineralization (soil net N ), that is, the net balance between N mineralization and immobilization, which could severely impact grassland structure and functioning. Yet, to date, little is known about how fertilization and herbivore removal individually, or jointly, affect soil net N across a wide range of grasslands that vary in soil and climatic properties. Here we collected data from 22 grasslands on five continents, all part of a globally replicated experiment, to assess how fertilization and herbivore removal affected potential (laboratory-based) and realized (field-based) soil net N . Herbivore removal in the absence of fertilization did not alter potential and realized soil net N . However, fertilization alone and in combination with herbivore removal consistently increased potential soil net N Realized soil net N , in contrast, significantly decreased in fertilized plots where herbivores were removed. Treatment effects on potential and realized soil net N were contingent on site-specific soil and climatic properties. Fertilization effects on potential soil net N were larger at sites with higher mean annual precipitation (MAP) and temperature of the wettest quarter (T.q.wet). Reciprocally, realized soil net N declined most strongly with fertilization and herbivore removal at sites with lower MAP and higher T.q.wet. In summary, our findings show that anthropogenic nutrient enrichment, herbivore exclusion and alterations in future climatic conditions can negatively impact soil net N across global grasslands under realistic field conditions. This is an important context-dependent knowledge for grassland management worldwide.
View Article and Find Full Text PDF

Download full-text PDF

Source
http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/gcb.15308DOI Listing
December 2020

Microbial processing of plant remains is co-limited by multiple nutrients in global grasslands.

Glob Chang Biol 2020 08 10;26(8):4572-4582. Epub 2020 Jun 10.

German Centre for Integrative Biodiversity Research (iDiv) Halle-Jena-Leipzig, Leipzig, Germany.

Microbial processing of aggregate-unprotected organic matter inputs is key for soil fertility, long-term ecosystem carbon and nutrient sequestration and sustainable agriculture. We investigated the effects of adding multiple nutrients (nitrogen, phosphorus and potassium plus nine essential macro- and micro-nutrients) on decomposition and biochemical transformation of standard plant materials buried in 21 grasslands from four continents. Addition of multiple nutrients weakly but consistently increased decomposition and biochemical transformation of plant remains during the peak-season, concurrent with changes in microbial exoenzymatic activity. Higher mean annual precipitation and lower mean annual temperature were the main climatic drivers of higher decomposition rates, while biochemical transformation of plant remains was negatively related to temperature of the wettest quarter. Nutrients enhanced decomposition most at cool, high rainfall sites, indicating that in a warmer and drier future fertilized grassland soils will have an even more limited potential for microbial processing of plant remains.
View Article and Find Full Text PDF

Download full-text PDF

Source
http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/gcb.15146DOI Listing
August 2020

Long-term restoration success of insect herbivore communities in seminatural grasslands: a functional approach.

Ecol Appl 2020 09 14;30(6):e02133. Epub 2020 May 14.

Forest Entomology, Swiss Federal Research Institute WSL, Birmensdorf, 8903, Switzerland.

Seminatural grasslands are important biodiversity hotspots, but they are increasingly degraded by intensive agriculture. Grassland restoration is considered to be promising in halting the ongoing loss of biodiversity, but this evaluation is mostly based on plant communities. Insect herbivores contribute substantially to grassland biodiversity and to the provisioning of a variety of ecosystem functions. However, it is unclear how they respond to different measures that are commonly used to restore seminatural grasslands from intensively used agricultural land. We studied the long-term success of different restoration techniques, which were originally targeted at reestablishing seminatural grassland plant communities, for herbivorous insect communities on taxonomic as well as functional level. Therefore, we sampled insect communities 22 yr after the establishment of restoration measures. These measures ranged from harvest and removal of biomass to removal of the topsoil layer and subsequent seeding of plant propagules. We found that insect communities in restored grasslands had higher taxonomic and functional diversity compared to intensively managed agricultural grasslands and were more similar in composition to target grasslands. Restoration measures including topsoil removal proved to be more effective, in particular in restoring species characterized by functional traits susceptible to intensive agriculture (e.g., large-bodied species). Our study shows that long-term success in the restoration of herbivorous insect communities of seminatural grasslands can be achieved by different restoration measures and that more invasive approaches that involve the removal of the topsoil layer are more effective. We attribute these restoration successes to accompanying changes in the plant community, resulting in bottom-up control of the herbivore community. Our results are of critical importance for management decisions aiming to restore multi-trophic communities, their functional composition and consequently the proliferation of ecosystem functions.
View Article and Find Full Text PDF

Download full-text PDF

Source
http://dx.doi.org/10.1002/eap.2133DOI Listing
September 2020

Nutrient availability controls the impact of mammalian herbivores on soil carbon and nitrogen pools in grasslands.

Glob Chang Biol 2020 Feb 3. Epub 2020 Feb 3.

Department of Terrestrial Ecology, Netherlands Institute of Ecology (NIOO-KNAW), Wageningen, The Netherlands.

Grasslands are subject to considerable alteration due to human activities globally, including widespread changes in populations and composition of large mammalian herbivores and elevated supply of nutrients. Grassland soils remain important reservoirs of carbon (C) and nitrogen (N). Herbivores may affect both C and N pools and these changes likely interact with increases in soil nutrient availability. Given the scale of grassland soil fluxes, such changes can have striking consequences for atmospheric C concentrations and the climate. Here, we use the Nutrient Network experiment to examine the responses of soil C and N pools to mammalian herbivore exclusion across 22 grasslands, under ambient and elevated nutrient availabilities (fertilized with NPK + micronutrients). We show that the impact of herbivore exclusion on soil C and N pools depends on fertilization. Under ambient nutrient conditions, we observed no effect of herbivore exclusion, but under elevated nutrient supply, pools are smaller upon herbivore exclusion. The highest mean soil C and N pools were found in grazed and fertilized plots. The decrease in soil C and N upon herbivore exclusion in combination with fertilization correlated with a decrease in aboveground plant biomass and microbial activity, indicating a reduced storage of organic matter and microbial residues as soil C and N. The response of soil C and N pools to herbivore exclusion was contingent on temperature - herbivores likely cause losses of C and N in colder sites and increases in warmer sites. Additionally, grasslands that contain mammalian herbivores have the potential to sequester more N under increased temperature variability and nutrient enrichment than ungrazed grasslands. Our study highlights the importance of conserving mammalian herbivore populations in grasslands worldwide. We need to incorporate local-scale herbivory, and its interaction with nutrient enrichment and climate, within global-scale models to better predict land-atmosphere interactions under future climate change.
View Article and Find Full Text PDF

Download full-text PDF

Source
http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/gcb.15023DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7155038PMC
February 2020

Leaf trait variability between and within subalpine grassland species differs depending on site conditions and herbivory.

Proc Biol Sci 2019 07 24;286(1907):20190429. Epub 2019 Jul 24.

Swiss Federal Institute for Forest, Snow and Landscape Research (WSL), Zürcherstrasse 111, 8903 Birmensdorf, Switzerland.

Plant traits are commonly used to predict ecosystem-level processes, but the validity of such predictions is dependent on the assumption that trait variability between species is greater than trait variability within a species-the robustness assumption. Here, we compare leaf trait intraspecific and interspecific variability depending on geographical differences between sites and 5 years of experimental herbivore exclusion in two vegetation types of subalpine grasslands in Switzerland. Four leaf traits were measured from eight herbaceous species common to all 18 sites. Intraspecific trait variability differed significantly depending on site and herbivory. However, the amount and structure of variability depended on the trait measured and whether considering leaf traits separately or multiple leaf traits simultaneously. Leaf phosphorus concentration showed the highest intraspecific variability, while specific leaf area showed the highest interspecific variability and displayed intraspecific variability only in response to herbivore exclusion. Species identity based on multiple traits was not predictable. We find intraspecific variability is an essential consideration when using plant functional traits as a common currency not just species mean traits. This is particularly true for leaf nutrient concentrations, which showed high intraspecific variability in response to site differences and herbivore exclusion, a finding which suggests that the robustness assumption does not always hold.
View Article and Find Full Text PDF

Download full-text PDF

Source
http://dx.doi.org/10.1098/rspb.2019.0429DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6661350PMC
July 2019

Responses of plant leaf economic and hydraulic traits mediate the effects of early- and late-season drought on grassland productivity.

AoB Plants 2019 Jun 4;11(3):plz023. Epub 2019 Apr 4.

Ecole Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne (EPFL), School of Architecture, Civil and Environmental Engineering (ENAC), Laboratory of Ecological Systems (ECOS), Switzerland.

Drought can occur at different times during the grassland growing season, likely having contrasting effects on forage production when happening early or later in the season. However, knowledge about the interacting effects of the timing of drought and the development stage of the vegetation during the growing season is still scarce, thus limiting our ability to accurately predict forage quantity losses. To investigate plant community responses to drought seasonality (early- vs. late-season), we established a drought experiment in two permanent grasslands of the Swiss Jura Mountains that are used for forage production. We measured three plant functional traits, including two leaf traits related to plant economics (specific leaf area, SLA; leaf dry matter content, LDMC) and one hydraulic trait related to physiological function (predicted percentage loss of hydraulic conductance, PLCp), of the most abundant species, and plant above-ground biomass production. Plant species composition was also determined to calculate community-weighted mean (CWM) traits. First, we observed that CWM trait values strongly varied during the growing season. Second, we found that late-season drought had stronger effects on CWM trait values than early-season drought and that the plant hydraulic trait was the most variable functional trait. Using a structural equation model, we also showed that reduction in soil moisture had no direct impacts on above-ground biomass production. Instead, we observed that the drought-induced decrease in above-ground biomass production was mediated by a higher CWM PLCp (i.e. higher risk of hydraulic failure) and lower CWM SLA under drought. Change in CWM SLA in response to drought was the best predictor of community above-ground biomass production. Our findings reveal the importance of drought timing together with the plant trait responses to assess drought impacts on grassland biomass production and suggest that incorporating these factors into mechanistic models could considerably improve predictions of climate change impacts.
View Article and Find Full Text PDF

Download full-text PDF

Source
http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/aobpla/plz023DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6499892PMC
June 2019

Leaf nutrients, not specific leaf area, are consistent indicators of elevated nutrient inputs.

Nat Ecol Evol 2019 03 4;3(3):400-406. Epub 2019 Feb 4.

Forest Research Centre, School of Agriculture, University of Lisbon, Lisbon, Portugal.

Leaf traits are frequently measured in ecology to provide a 'common currency' for predicting how anthropogenic pressures impact ecosystem function. Here, we test whether leaf traits consistently respond to experimental treatments across 27 globally distributed grassland sites across 4 continents. We find that specific leaf area (leaf area per unit mass)-a commonly measured morphological trait inferring shifts between plant growth strategies-did not respond to up to four years of soil nutrient additions. Leaf nitrogen, phosphorus and potassium concentrations increased in response to the addition of each respective soil nutrient. We found few significant changes in leaf traits when vertebrate herbivores were excluded in the short-term. Leaf nitrogen and potassium concentrations were positively correlated with species turnover, suggesting that interspecific trait variation was a significant predictor of leaf nitrogen and potassium, but not of leaf phosphorus concentration. Climatic conditions and pretreatment soil nutrient levels also accounted for significant amounts of variation in the leaf traits measured. Overall, we find that leaf morphological traits, such as specific leaf area, are not appropriate indicators of plant response to anthropogenic perturbations in grasslands.
View Article and Find Full Text PDF

Download full-text PDF

Source
http://dx.doi.org/10.1038/s41559-018-0790-1DOI Listing
March 2019

Change in dominance determines herbivore effects on plant biodiversity.

Nat Ecol Evol 2018 12 29;2(12):1925-1932. Epub 2018 Oct 29.

Institut Polytechnique Rural/Institut de Formation et de Recherche Appliquee, Katibougou, Mali.

Herbivores alter plant biodiversity (species richness) in many of the world's ecosystems, but the magnitude and the direction of herbivore effects on biodiversity vary widely within and among ecosystems. One current theory predicts that herbivores enhance plant biodiversity at high productivity but have the opposite effect at low productivity. Yet, empirical support for the importance of site productivity as a mediator of these herbivore impacts is equivocal. Here, we synthesize data from 252 large-herbivore exclusion studies, spanning a 20-fold range in site productivity, to test an alternative hypothesis-that herbivore-induced changes in the competitive environment determine the response of plant biodiversity to herbivory irrespective of productivity. Under this hypothesis, when herbivores reduce the abundance (biomass, cover) of dominant species (for example, because the dominant plant is palatable), additional resources become available to support new species, thereby increasing biodiversity. By contrast, if herbivores promote high dominance by increasing the abundance of herbivory-resistant, unpalatable species, then resource availability for other species decreases reducing biodiversity. We show that herbivore-induced change in dominance, independent of site productivity or precipitation (a proxy for productivity), is the best predictor of herbivore effects on biodiversity in grassland and savannah sites. Given that most herbaceous ecosystems are dominated by one or a few species, altering the competitive environment via herbivores or by other means may be an effective strategy for conserving biodiversity in grasslands and savannahs globally.
View Article and Find Full Text PDF

Download full-text PDF

Source
http://dx.doi.org/10.1038/s41559-018-0696-yDOI Listing
December 2018

Spatial heterogeneity in species composition constrains plant community responses to herbivory and fertilisation.

Ecol Lett 2018 09 27;21(9):1364-1371. Epub 2018 Jun 27.

Department of Biology, Duke University, Durham, NC, 27708, USA.

Environmental change can result in substantial shifts in community composition. The associated immigration and extinction events are likely constrained by the spatial distribution of species. Still, studies on environmental change typically quantify biotic responses at single spatial (time series within a single plot) or temporal (spatial beta diversity at single time points) scales, ignoring their potential interdependence. Here, we use data from a global network of grassland experiments to determine how turnover responses to two major forms of environmental change - fertilisation and herbivore loss - are affected by species pool size and spatial compositional heterogeneity. Fertilisation led to higher rates of local extinction, whereas turnover in herbivore exclusion plots was driven by species replacement. Overall, sites with more spatially heterogeneous composition showed significantly higher rates of annual turnover, independent of species pool size and treatment. Taking into account spatial biodiversity aspects will therefore improve our understanding of consequences of global and anthropogenic change on community dynamics.
View Article and Find Full Text PDF

Download full-text PDF

Source
http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/ele.13102DOI Listing
September 2018

Herbivory and eutrophication mediate grassland plant nutrient responses across a global climatic gradient.

Ecology 2018 04 31;99(4):822-831. Epub 2018 Mar 31.

Department of Ecology, Evolution, and Behavior, University of MN, St. Paul, Minnesota, 55108, USA.

Plant stoichiometry, the relative concentration of elements, is a key regulator of ecosystem functioning and is also being altered by human activities. In this paper we sought to understand the global drivers of plant stoichiometry and compare the relative contribution of climatic vs. anthropogenic effects. We addressed this goal by measuring plant elemental (C, N, P and K) responses to eutrophication and vertebrate herbivore exclusion at eighteen sites on six continents. Across sites, climate and atmospheric N deposition emerged as strong predictors of plot-level tissue nutrients, mediated by biomass and plant chemistry. Within sites, fertilization increased total plant nutrient pools, but results were contingent on soil fertility and the proportion of grass biomass relative to other functional types. Total plant nutrient pools diverged strongly in response to herbivore exclusion when fertilized; responses were largest in ungrazed plots at low rainfall, whereas herbivore grazing dampened the plant community nutrient responses to fertilization. Our study highlights (1) the importance of climate in determining plant nutrient concentrations mediated through effects on plant biomass, (2) that eutrophication affects grassland nutrient pools via both soil and atmospheric pathways and (3) that interactions among soils, herbivores and eutrophication drive plant nutrient responses at small scales, especially at water-limited sites.
View Article and Find Full Text PDF

Download full-text PDF

Source
http://dx.doi.org/10.1002/ecy.2175DOI Listing
April 2018

Local loss and spatial homogenization of plant diversity reduce ecosystem multifunctionality.

Nat Ecol Evol 2018 Jan 4;2(1):50-56. Epub 2017 Dec 4.

Department of Plant & Soil Sciences, University of Kentucky, Lexington, KY, 40546-0091, USA.

Biodiversity is declining in many local communities while also becoming increasingly homogenized across space. Experiments show that local plant species loss reduces ecosystem functioning and services, but the role of spatial homogenization of community composition and the potential interaction between diversity at different scales in maintaining ecosystem functioning remains unclear, especially when many functions are considered (ecosystem multifunctionality). We present an analysis of eight ecosystem functions measured in 65 grasslands worldwide. We find that more diverse grasslands-those with both species-rich local communities (α-diversity) and large compositional differences among localities (β-diversity)-had higher levels of multifunctionality. Moreover, α- and β-diversity synergistically affected multifunctionality, with higher levels of diversity at one scale amplifying the contribution to ecological functions at the other scale. The identity of species influencing ecosystem functioning differed among functions and across local communities, explaining why more diverse grasslands maintained greater functionality when more functions and localities were considered. These results were robust to variation in environmental drivers. Our findings reveal that plant diversity, at both local and landscape scales, contributes to the maintenance of multiple ecosystem services provided by grasslands. Preserving ecosystem functioning therefore requires conservation of biodiversity both within and among ecological communities.
View Article and Find Full Text PDF

Download full-text PDF

Source
http://dx.doi.org/10.1038/s41559-017-0395-0DOI Listing
January 2018

Mammal-induced trophic cascades in invertebrate food webs are modulated by grazing intensity in subalpine grassland.

J Anim Ecol 2017 10 10;86(6):1434-1446. Epub 2017 Oct 10.

Research Unit Community Ecology, Swiss Federal Institute for Forest, Snow and Landscape Research, Birmensdorf, Switzerland.

Even though mammalian herbivores can exert strong indirect effects on other animals by altering the vegetation, the study of trophic cascades retains a focus on apex predators and their top-down forces. Bottom-up trophic interaction chains induced by mammalian herbivores, particularly in invertebrate food webs, remain largely unexplored. We tested whether effects of mammalian herbivores on the vegetation ricochet back up several trophic levels of the invertebrate food web. We further tested two alternative hypotheses: the strength of herbivore-induced indirect interactions either increases with plant productivity because of a concurrent higher grazing intensity, or it decreases because of a higher plant tolerance to grazing. We progressively excluded large, medium and small herbivorous mammals from replicated plots of 6 m in productive, intensively grazed short-grass vegetation and less productive, less intensively grazed tall-grass vegetation of subalpine grasslands. We measured vegetation quantity, quality, structure and composition, and determined the abundance of invertebrate herbivores, detritivores, omnivores and predators. We used structural equation modelling to test vegetation-mediated cascading effects of the different mammalian herbivores across different trophic groups of invertebrates. In the short-grass vegetation, mammals caused changes in vegetation quantity and thickness. These changes directly affected detritivorous and predatory invertebrate abundance, yet indirectly affected predatory and omnivorous invertebrates through a bottom-up trophic cascade via changes in herbivorous invertebrate abundance. In the tall-grass vegetation, mammal-induced changes in vegetation quality and composition affected detritivorous invertebrates and in turn omnivorous invertebrates, but these cascading effects were weaker than those in the short-grass vegetation. Smaller mammals were at least as important as large mammals in structuring the invertebrate food web. Our results demonstrate that differently sized mammalian herbivores can trigger trophic cascades in the local invertebrate food web. Our findings further support the hypothesis that herbivore-induced indirect interactions are stronger in more productive systems because of higher foraging intensity, as opposed to the hypothesis that a higher grazing tolerance of plants should dampen herbivore-induced indirect interactions in productive systems.
View Article and Find Full Text PDF

Download full-text PDF

Source
http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/1365-2656.12744DOI Listing
October 2017

Herbivores sculpt leaf traits differently in grasslands depending on life form and land-use histories.

Ecology 2017 Jan;98(1):239-252

Swiss Federal Institute for Forest, Snow and Landscape Research (WSL), Zürcherstrasse 111, 8903, Birmensdorf, Switzerland.

Vertebrate and invertebrate herbivores alter plant communities directly by selectively consuming plant species; and indirectly by inducing morphological and physiological changes to plant traits that provide competitive or survivorship advantages to some life forms over others. Progressively excluding aboveground herbivore communities (ungulates, medium and small sized mammals, invertebrates) over five growing seasons, we explored how leaf morphology (specific leaf area or SLA) and nutrition (nitrogen, carbon, phosphorous, potassium, sodium, and calcium) of different plant life forms (forbs, legumes, grasses, sedges) correlated with their dominance. We experimented in two subalpine grassland types with different land-use histories: (1) heavily grazed, nutrient-rich, short-grass vegetation and (2) lightly grazed, lower nutrient tall-grass vegetation. We found differences in leaf traits between treatments where either all herbivores were excluded or all herbivores were present, showing the importance of considering the impacts of both vertebrates and invertebrates on the leaf traits of plant species. Life forms responses to the progressive exclusion of herbivores were captured by six possible combinations: (1) increased leaf size and resource use efficiency (leaf area/nutrients) where lower nutrient levels are invested in leaf construction, but a reduction in the number of leaves, for example, forbs in both vegetation types, (2) increased leaf size and resource use efficiency, for example, legumes in short grass, (3) increased leaf size but a reduction in the number of leaves, for example, legumes in the tall grass, (4) increased number of leaves produced and increased resource use efficiency, for example, grasses in the short grass, (5) increased resource use efficiency of leaves only, for example, grasses and sedges in the tall grass, and (6) no response in terms of leaf construction or dominance, for example, sedges in the short grass. Although we found multiple possible responses by life forms to progressive exclusion of herbivores, we also found some important generalities. Changes in leaf traits of legumes and grasses correlated with their increasing dominance in the short-grass vegetation and plants were more efficient at constructing photosynthetic tissue when herbivores are present with few exceptions. These results demonstrate that vertebrate and invertebrate herbivores are essential to maintain plant species richness and resource-use efficiency.
View Article and Find Full Text PDF

Download full-text PDF

Source
http://dx.doi.org/10.1002/ecy.1637DOI Listing
January 2017

Description of the sexuales of Myzodium modestum (Hottes) (Hemiptera: Aphididae) discovered in the Swiss Alps.

Zootaxa 2016 Nov 24;4196(4):zootaxa.4196.4.8. Epub 2016 Nov 24.

Departamento de Biodiversidad y Gestión Ambiental, Universidad de León, 24071 León, Spain.

The sexuales (apterous oviparous female and alate male) of Myzodium modestum (Hottes) are described for the first time from specimens captured in the Swiss Alps. This is also the first record of this species in Switzerland. This is the first evidence that an aphid may be able to complete its life cycle on mosses.
View Article and Find Full Text PDF

Download full-text PDF

Source
http://dx.doi.org/10.11646/zootaxa.4196.4.8DOI Listing
November 2016

Addition of multiple limiting resources reduces grassland diversity.

Nature 2016 09 24;537(7618):93-96. Epub 2016 Aug 24.

Swiss Federal Institute for Forest, Snow and Landscape Research, Community Ecology, Birmensdorf 8903, Switzerland.

Niche dimensionality provides a general theoretical explanation for biodiversity-more niches, defined by more limiting factors, allow for more ways that species can coexist. Because plant species compete for the same set of limiting resources, theory predicts that addition of a limiting resource eliminates potential trade-offs, reducing the number of species that can coexist. Multiple nutrient limitation of plant production is common and therefore fertilization may reduce diversity by reducing the number or dimensionality of belowground limiting factors. At the same time, nutrient addition, by increasing biomass, should ultimately shift competition from belowground nutrients towards a one-dimensional competitive trade-off for light. Here we show that plant species diversity decreased when a greater number of limiting nutrients were added across 45 grassland sites from a multi-continent experimental network. The number of added nutrients predicted diversity loss, even after controlling for effects of plant biomass, and even where biomass production was not nutrient-limited. We found that elevated resource supply reduced niche dimensionality and diversity and increased both productivity and compositional turnover. Our results point to the importance of understanding dimensionality in ecological systems that are undergoing diversity loss in response to multiple global change factors.
View Article and Find Full Text PDF

Download full-text PDF

Source
http://dx.doi.org/10.1038/nature19324DOI Listing
September 2016

Aboveground vertebrate and invertebrate herbivore impact on net N mineralization in subalpine grasslands.

Ecology 2015 Dec;96(12):3312-22

Aboveground herbivores have strong effects on grassland nitrogen (N) cycling. They can accelerate or slow down soil net N mineralization depending on ecosystem productivity and grazing intensity. Yet, most studies only consider either ungulates or invertebrate herbivores, but not the combined effect of several functionally different vertebrate and invertebrate herbivore species or guilds. We assessed how a diverse herbivore community affects net N mineralization in subalpine grasslands. By using size-selective fences, we progressively excluded large, medium, and small mammals, as well as invertebrates from two vegetation types, and assessed how the exclosure types (ET) affected net N mineralization. The two vegetation types differed in long-term management (centuries), forage quality, and grazing history and intensity. To gain a more mechanistic understanding of how herbivores affect net N mineralization, we linked mineralization to soil abiotic (temperature; moisture; NO3-, NH4+, and total inorganic N concentrations/pools; C, N, P concentrations; pH; bulk density), soil biotic (microbial biomass; abundance of collembolans, mites, and nematodes) and plant (shoot and root biomass; consumption; plant C, N, and fiber content; plant N pool) properties. Net N mineralization differed between ET, but not between vegetation types. Thus, short-term changes in herbivore community composition and, therefore, in grazing intensity had a stronger effect on net N mineralization than long-term management and grazing history. We found highest N mineralization values when only invertebrates were present, suggesting that mammals had a negative effect on net N mineralization. Of the variables included in our analyses, only mite abundance and aboveground plant biomass explained variation in net N mineralization among ET. Abundances of both mites and leaf-sucking invertebrates were positively correlated with aboveground plant biomass, and biomass increased with progressive exclusion. The negative impact of mammals on net N mineralization may be related partially to (1) differences in the amount of plant material (litter) returned to the belowground subsystem, which induced a positive bottom-up effect on mite abundance, and (2) alterations in the amount and/or distribution of dung, urine, and food waste. Thus, our results clearly show that short-term alterations of the aboveground herbivore community can strongly impact nutrient cycling within ecosystems independent of long-term management and grazing history.
View Article and Find Full Text PDF

Download full-text PDF

Source
http://dx.doi.org/10.1890/15-0300.1DOI Listing
December 2015

Comment on "Worldwide evidence of a unimodal relationship between productivity and plant species richness".

Science 2016 Jan;351(6272):457

Department of Ecology, Environment and Evolution, La Trobe University, Kingsbury Drive, Bundoora 3086, Victoria, Australia.

Fraser et al. (Reports, 17 July 2015, p. 302) report a unimodal relationship between productivity and species richness at regional and global scales, which they contrast with the results of Adler et al. (Reports, 23 September 2011, p. 1750). However, both data sets, when analyzed correctly, show clearly and consistently that productivity is a poor predictor of local species richness.
View Article and Find Full Text PDF

Download full-text PDF

Source
http://dx.doi.org/10.1126/science.aad6236DOI Listing
January 2016

Foraging ecology of three sympatric ungulate species - Behavioural and resource maps indicate differences between chamois, ibex and red deer.

Mov Ecol 2015 14;3. Epub 2015 Mar 14.

Research Unit Community Ecology, Swiss Federal Institute for Forest, Snow and Landscape Research WSL, Zürcherstrasse 111, 8903 Birmensdorf, Switzerland.

Background: The spatial distribution of forage resources is a major driver of animal movement patterns. Understanding where animals forage is important for the conservation of multi-species communities, since interspecific competition can emerge if different species use the same depletable resources. However, determining forage resources in a spatially continuous fashion in alpine grasslands at high spatial resolution was challenging up to now, because terrain heterogeneity causes vegetation characteristics to vary at small spatial scales, and methods for detection of behavioural phases in animal movement patterns were not widely available. We delineated areas coupled to the foraging behaviour of three sympatric ungulate species (chamois, ibex, red deer) using Time Local Convex Hull (T-LoCoH), a non-parametric utilisation distribution method incorporating spatial and temporal autocorrelation structure of GPS data. We used resource maps of plant biomass and plant nitrogen content derived from high-resolution airborne imaging spectroscopy data, and multinomial logistic regression to compare the foraging areas of the three ungulate species.

Results: We found significant differences in plant biomass and plant nitrogen content between the core foraging areas of chamois, ibex and red deer. Core foraging areas of chamois were characterised by low plant biomass and low to medium plant nitrogen content. Core foraging areas of ibex were, in contrast, characterised by high plant nitrogen content, but varied in plant biomass, and core foraging areas of red deer had high plant biomass, but varied in plant nitrogen content.

Conclusions: Previous studies carried out in the same study area found no difference in forage consumed by chamois, ibex and red deer. Methodologically, those studies were based on micro-histological analysis of plant fragments identifying them to plant family or functional type level. However, vegetation properties such as productivity (biomass) or plant nutrient content can vary within vegetation communities, especially in highly heterogeneous landscapes. Thus, the combination of high spatial resolution resource maps with a utilisation distribution method allowing to generate behavioural maps (T-LoCoH) provides new insights into the foraging ecology of the three sympatric species, important for their conservation and to monitor expected future changes.
View Article and Find Full Text PDF

Download full-text PDF

Source
http://dx.doi.org/10.1186/s40462-015-0033-xDOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4722786PMC
January 2016

Consistent responses of soil microbial communities to elevated nutrient inputs in grasslands across the globe.

Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A 2015 Sep 17;112(35):10967-72. Epub 2015 Aug 17.

Cooperative Institute for Research in Environmental Sciences, University of Colorado, Boulder, CO 80309; Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology, University of Colorado, Boulder, CO 80309;

Soil microorganisms are critical to ecosystem functioning and the maintenance of soil fertility. However, despite global increases in the inputs of nitrogen (N) and phosphorus (P) to ecosystems due to human activities, we lack a predictive understanding of how microbial communities respond to elevated nutrient inputs across environmental gradients. Here we used high-throughput sequencing of marker genes to elucidate the responses of soil fungal, archaeal, and bacterial communities using an N and P addition experiment replicated at 25 globally distributed grassland sites. We also sequenced metagenomes from a subset of the sites to determine how the functional attributes of bacterial communities change in response to elevated nutrients. Despite strong compositional differences across sites, microbial communities shifted in a consistent manner with N or P additions, and the magnitude of these shifts was related to the magnitude of plant community responses to nutrient inputs. Mycorrhizal fungi and methanogenic archaea decreased in relative abundance with nutrient additions, as did the relative abundances of oligotrophic bacterial taxa. The metagenomic data provided additional evidence for this shift in bacterial life history strategies because nutrient additions decreased the average genome sizes of the bacterial community members and elicited changes in the relative abundances of representative functional genes. Our results suggest that elevated N and P inputs lead to predictable shifts in the taxonomic and functional traits of soil microbial communities, including increases in the relative abundances of faster-growing, copiotrophic bacterial taxa, with these shifts likely to impact belowground ecosystems worldwide.
View Article and Find Full Text PDF

Download full-text PDF

Source
http://dx.doi.org/10.1073/pnas.1508382112DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4568213PMC
September 2015

Plant species' origin predicts dominance and response to nutrient enrichment and herbivores in global grasslands.

Nat Commun 2015 Jul 15;6:7710. Epub 2015 Jul 15.

Department of Entomology, University of Maryland, College Park Maryland 20742, USA.

Exotic species dominate many communities; however the functional significance of species' biogeographic origin remains highly contentious. This debate is fuelled in part by the lack of globally replicated, systematic data assessing the relationship between species provenance, function and response to perturbations. We examined the abundance of native and exotic plant species at 64 grasslands in 13 countries, and at a subset of the sites we experimentally tested native and exotic species responses to two fundamental drivers of invasion, mineral nutrient supplies and vertebrate herbivory. Exotic species are six times more likely to dominate communities than native species. Furthermore, while experimental nutrient addition increases the cover and richness of exotic species, nutrients decrease native diversity and cover. Native and exotic species also differ in their response to vertebrate consumer exclusion. These results suggest that species origin has functional significance, and that eutrophication will lead to increased exotic dominance in grasslands.
View Article and Find Full Text PDF

Download full-text PDF

Source
http://dx.doi.org/10.1038/ncomms8710DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4518311PMC
July 2015

Indirect short- and long-term effects of aboveground invertebrate and vertebrate herbivores on soil microarthropod communities.

PLoS One 2015 4;10(3):e0118679. Epub 2015 Mar 4.

Research Unit Community Ecology, Swiss Federal Institute for Forest, Snow and Landscape Research, Birmensdorf, Switzerland.

Recognition is growing that besides ungulates, small vertebrate and invertebrate herbivores are important drivers of grassland functioning. Even though soil microarthropods play key roles in several soil processes, effects of herbivores-especially those of smaller body size-on their communities are not well understood. Therefore, we progressively excluded large, medium and small vertebrate and invertebrate herbivores for three growing seasons using size-selective fences in two vegetation types in subalpine grasslands; short-grass and tall-grass vegetation generated by high and low historical levels of ungulate grazing. Herbivore exclusions generally had few effects on microarthropod communities, but exclusion of all herbivore groups resulted in decreased total springtail and Poduromorpha richness compared with exclusion of only ungulates and medium-sized mammals, regardless of vegetation type. The tall-grass vegetation had a higher total springtail richness and mesostigmatid mite abundance than the short-grass vegetation and a different oribatid mite community composition. Although several biotic and abiotic variables differed between the exclusion treatments and vegetation types, effects on soil microarthropods were best explained by differences in nutrient and fibre content of the previous year's vegetation, a proxy for litter quality, and to a lesser extent soil temperature. After three growing seasons, smaller herbivores had a stronger impact on these functionally important soil microarthropod communities than large herbivores. Over longer time-scales, however, large grazers created two different vegetation types and thereby influenced microarthropod communities bottom-up, e.g. by altering resource quality. Hence, both short- and long-term consequences of herbivory affected the structure of the soil microarthropod community.
View Article and Find Full Text PDF

Download full-text PDF

Source
http://journals.plos.org/plosone/article?id=10.1371/journal.pone.0118679PLOS
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4349861PMC
January 2016

Grassland productivity limited by multiple nutrients.

Nat Plants 2015 Jul 6;1:15080. Epub 2015 Jul 6.

Department of Plant and Soil Sciences, University of Kentucky, Lexington, Kentucky 40546, USA.

Terrestrial ecosystem productivity is widely accepted to be nutrient limited(1). Although nitrogen (N) is deemed a key determinant of aboveground net primary production (ANPP)(2,3), the prevalence of co-limitation by N and phosphorus (P) is increasingly recognized(4-8). However, the extent to which terrestrial productivity is co-limited by nutrients other than N and P has remained unclear. Here, we report results from a standardized factorial nutrient addition experiment, in which we added N, P and potassium (K) combined with a selection of micronutrients (K+μ), alone or in concert, to 42 grassland sites spanning five continents, and monitored ANPP. Nutrient availability limited productivity at 31 of the 42 grassland sites. And pairwise combinations of N, P, and K+μ co-limited ANPP at 29 of the sites. Nitrogen limitation peaked in cool, high latitude sites. Our findings highlight the importance of less studied nutrients, such as K and micronutrients, for grassland productivity, and point to significant variations in the type and degree of nutrient limitation. We suggest that multiple-nutrient constraints must be considered when assessing the ecosystem-scale consequences of nutrient enrichment.
View Article and Find Full Text PDF

Download full-text PDF

Source
http://dx.doi.org/10.1038/nplants.2015.80DOI Listing
July 2015

Plant diversity predicts beta but not alpha diversity of soil microbes across grasslands worldwide.

Ecol Lett 2015 Jan 28;18(1):85-95. Epub 2014 Nov 28.

CSIRO Land and Water Flagship, Private Bag 5, Wembley, WA, 6913, Australia.

Aboveground-belowground interactions exert critical controls on the composition and function of terrestrial ecosystems, yet the fundamental relationships between plant diversity and soil microbial diversity remain elusive. Theory predicts predominantly positive associations but tests within single sites have shown variable relationships, and associations between plant and microbial diversity across broad spatial scales remain largely unexplored. We compared the diversity of plant, bacterial, archaeal and fungal communities in one hundred and forty-five 1 m(2) plots across 25 temperate grassland sites from four continents. Across sites, the plant alpha diversity patterns were poorly related to those observed for any soil microbial group. However, plant beta diversity (compositional dissimilarity between sites) was significantly correlated with the beta diversity of bacterial and fungal communities, even after controlling for environmental factors. Thus, across a global range of temperate grasslands, plant diversity can predict patterns in the composition of soil microbial communities, but not patterns in alpha diversity.
View Article and Find Full Text PDF

Download full-text PDF

Source
http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/ele.12381DOI Listing
January 2015