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Herbivores and nutrients control grassland plant diversity via light limitation
Nature
  • Elizabeth T. Borer, University of Minnesota
  • Eric W. Seabloom, University of Minnesota
  • Daniel S. Gruner, University of Maryland
  • W. Stanley Harpole, Iowa State University
  • Helmut Hillebrand, Carl-von-Ossietzky University
  • Eric M. Lind, University of Minnesota
  • Peter B. Adler, Utah State University
  • Juan Alberti, Instituto de Investigaciones Marinas y Costeras
  • T. Michael Anderson, Wake Forest University
  • Jonathan D. Bakker, University of Washington
  • Lori A. Biederman, Iowa State University
  • Dana Blumenthal, USDA Agricultural Research Service
  • Cynthia S. Brown, Colorado State University - Fort Collins
  • Lars A. Brudvig, Michigan State University
  • Yvonne M. Buckley, University of Queensland
  • Marc Cadotte, University of Toronto, Scarborough
  • Chengjin Chu, Lanzhou University
  • Elsa E. Cleland, University of California, San Diego
  • Michael J. Crawley, Imperial College at Silwood Park
  • Pedro Daleo, Instituto de Investigaciones Marinas y Costeras
  • Ellen I. Damschen, University of Wisconsin–Madison
  • Kendi F. Davies, University of Colorado at Boulder
  • Nicole M. DeCrappeo, United States Geological Survey
  • Guozhen Du, Lanzhou University
  • Jennifer Firn, Queensland University of Technology
  • Yann Hautier, University of Minnesota
  • Robert W. Heckman, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
  • Andy Hector, University of Oxford
  • Janneke HilleRisLambers, University of Washington
  • Oscar Iribarne, Instituto de Investigaciones Marinas y Costeras
  • Julia A. Klein, Colorado State University - Fort Collins
  • Johannes M. H. Knops, University of Nebraska–Lincoln
  • Kimberly J. La Pierre, University of California - Berkeley
  • Andrew D. B. Leakey, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
  • Wei Li, Iowa State University
  • Andrew S. MacDougall, University of Guelph
  • Rebecca L. McCulley, University of Kentucky
  • Brett A. Melbourne, University of Colorado at Boulder
  • Charles E. Mitchell, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
  • Joslin L. Moore, University of Melbourne
  • Brent D. Mortensen, Iowa State University
  • Lydia R. O'Halloran, Oregon State University
  • John L. Orrock, University of Wisconsin–Madison
  • Jesus Pascual, Instituto de Investigaciones Marinas y Costeras
  • Suzanne M. Prober, CSIRO Ecosystem Sciences
  • David A. Pyke, United States Geological Survey
  • Anita C. Risch, Swiss Federal Institute for Forest, Snow and Landscape Research
  • Martin Schuetz, Swiss Federal Institute for Forest, Snow and Landscape Research
  • Melinda D. Smith, Colorado State University - Fort Collins
  • Carly J. Stevens, Lancaster University
  • Lauren K. Sullivan, Iowa State University
  • Ryan J. Williams, Iowa State University
  • Peter D. Wragg, University of Minnesota
  • Justin P. Wright, Duke University
  • Louie H. Yang, University of California - Davis
Document Type
Article
Publication Date
1-1-2014
DOI
10.1038/nature13144
Abstract

Human alterations to nutrient cycles1, 2 and herbivore communities3, 4, 5, 6, 7 are affecting global biodiversity dramatically2. Ecological theory predicts these changes should be strongly counteractive: nutrient addition drives plant species loss through intensified competition for light, whereas herbivores prevent competitive exclusion by increasing ground-level light, particularly in productive systems8, 9. Here we use experimental data spanning a globally relevant range of conditions to test the hypothesis that herbaceous plant species losses caused by eutrophication may be offset by increased light availability due to herbivory. This experiment, replicated in 40 grasslands on 6 continents, demonstrates that nutrients and herbivores can serve as counteracting forces to control local plant diversity through light limitation, independent of site productivity, soil nitrogen, herbivore type and climate. Nutrient addition consistently reduced local diversity through light limitation, and herbivory rescued diversity at sites where it alleviated light limitation. Thus, species loss from anthropogenic eutrophication can be ameliorated in grasslands where herbivory increases ground-level light.

Comments

This article is from Nature 508 (2014): 517, doi:10.1038/nature13144.

Rights
Works produced by employees of the U.S. Government as part of their official duties are not copyrighted within the U.S. The content of this document is not copyrighted.
Language
en
Date Available
2014-09-17
File Format
application/pdf
Citation Information
Elizabeth T. Borer, Eric W. Seabloom, Daniel S. Gruner, W. Stanley Harpole, et al.. "Herbivores and nutrients control grassland plant diversity via light limitation" Nature Vol. 508 (2014) p. 517 - 520
Available at: http://works.bepress.com/lori_biederman/5/