Changes in chalk‐grassland structure and species richness resulting from selective nutrient additions

Changes in chalk‐grassland structure and species richness resulting from selective nutrient... Abstract. A series of fertilization experiments was carried out over a 5‐yr period in a chalk grassland in Limburg (The Netherlands) as part of a study of the maintenance of species richness in species‐rich grasslands. Phosphorus and nitrogen were shown to be the most limiting nutrients. Addition of both elements doubled above‐ground production, and species richness dropped ca. 50 % in 0.01‐m2 subplots, relative to controls. However, neither the above‐ground production nor plant growth‐forms were sufficient to explain the observed changes in species richness. Small‐scale structural heterogeneity of the vegetation is probably critical for maintaining high levels of richness. Historically, high nitrogen, low phosphorus conditions were rarely encountered in the Dutch landscape and few species appear adapted to these conditions. Among the chalk grassland species, Brachypodiumpinnatum seems well adapted to these conditions, where it dominates and excludes most other species. A detailed understanding of the small‐scale processes responsible for maintenance of species richness is critically important in efforts to maintain the biodiversity of natural ecosystems. http://www.deepdyve.com/assets/images/DeepDyve-Logo-lg.png Journal of Vegetation Science Wiley

Changes in chalk‐grassland structure and species richness resulting from selective nutrient additions

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Publisher
Wiley
Copyright
1993 IAVS ‐ the International Association of Vegetation Science
ISSN
1100-9233
eISSN
1654-1103
DOI
10.2307/3236106
Publisher site
See Article on Publisher Site

Abstract

Abstract. A series of fertilization experiments was carried out over a 5‐yr period in a chalk grassland in Limburg (The Netherlands) as part of a study of the maintenance of species richness in species‐rich grasslands. Phosphorus and nitrogen were shown to be the most limiting nutrients. Addition of both elements doubled above‐ground production, and species richness dropped ca. 50 % in 0.01‐m2 subplots, relative to controls. However, neither the above‐ground production nor plant growth‐forms were sufficient to explain the observed changes in species richness. Small‐scale structural heterogeneity of the vegetation is probably critical for maintaining high levels of richness. Historically, high nitrogen, low phosphorus conditions were rarely encountered in the Dutch landscape and few species appear adapted to these conditions. Among the chalk grassland species, Brachypodiumpinnatum seems well adapted to these conditions, where it dominates and excludes most other species. A detailed understanding of the small‐scale processes responsible for maintenance of species richness is critically important in efforts to maintain the biodiversity of natural ecosystems.

Journal

Journal of Vegetation ScienceWiley

Published: Apr 1, 1993

References

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