Nitrogen enrichment reduces nitrogen and phosphorus resorption through changes to species resorption and plant community composition

Ecosystems
By: , and 

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Abstract

Anthropogenic nitrogen (N) deposition has affected plant community composition and nutrient cycling in terrestrial ecosystems worldwide. This includes changes to the way plants use and recycle nutrients, including effects on nutrient resorption, which is a key process through which plants recover nutrients from tissue during senescence. Nutrient resorption has considerable adaptive and functional significance for plants and helps regulate core ecosystem processes such as decomposition. However, our understanding of how N deposition affects nutrient resorption and, in particular, of how N inputs alter ecosystem resorption via changes to existing species’ resorption compared with changes to community composition remains poor. To disentangle the role of species versus community composition controls driving variation in nutrient resorption responses to N inputs, we carried out an experiment with six different N addition rates in a temperate steppe. We found that species-scale nutrient resorption responses to N enrichment were variable; for example, only half of the measured species reduced both N and P resorption efficiency in response to increased N inputs. In contrast, community-scale responses consistently resulted in reduced N and P resorption. Still, N-induced changes in community composition were a weaker control on overall resorption responses than were the effects on individual species; however, it was the synergistic interaction between the two that resulted in the large total reductions of nutrient resorption in the face of increased N. Taken together, our results highlight that understanding and predicting nutrient resorption responses will be most accurately scaled by accounting not only for species’ reductions in resorption but also for changes in community composition.

Publication type Article
Publication Subtype Journal Article
Title Nitrogen enrichment reduces nitrogen and phosphorus resorption through changes to species resorption and plant community composition
Series title Ecosystems
DOI 10.1007/s10021-020-00537-0
Edition Online First
Year Published 2020
Language English
Publisher Springer
Contributing office(s) Southwest Biological Science Center
Online Only (Y/N) Y
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