Grassland ecology

  • Article
    | Open Access

    Legacies of past plant communities are likely to influence plant-soil interactions. Here, the authors report a reciprocal transplant experiment showing that soil microbial legacies shaped by previous plants persist for soil fungi and root endophytes but can be reversed by a next generation of plants for soil bacteria.

    • S. Emilia Hannula
    • , Robin Heinen
    •  & T. Martijn Bezemer
  • Article
    | Open Access

    Land use intensification is a major driver of biodiversity change. Here the authors measure diversity across multiple trophic levels in agricultural grassland landscapes of varying management, finding decoupled responses of above- and belowground taxa to local factors and a strong impact of landscape-level land use.

    • Gaëtane Le Provost
    • , Jan Thiele
    •  & Peter Manning
  • Article
    | Open Access

    Anthropogenic nutrient enrichment may drive shifts in soil microbial communities. Here, the authors analyse nitrogen and phosphorus addition effects on soil fungi in a distributed grassland experiment across four continents, finding promotion of pathogens, suppression of mutualists, and no shifts in saprotrophs.

    • Ylva Lekberg
    • , Carlos A. Arnillas
    •  & Jeremiah A. Henning
  • Article
    | Open Access

    Advances in process-based community ecology models are hindered by the challenge of linking functional traits to demography in species-rich systems, where a high number of parameters need to be estimated from limited data. Here the authors propose a new Bayesian framework to calibrate community models via functional traits, and validate it in a species-rich plant community.

    • Loïc Chalmandrier
    • , Florian Hartig
    •  & Loïc Pellissier
  • Article
    | Open Access

    It is unclear whether terrestrial herbivores are able to consume the extra plant biomass produced under nutrient enrichment. Here the authors test this in grasslands using a globally distributed network of coordinated field experiments, finding that wild herbivore control on grassland production declines under eutrophication.

    • E. T. Borer
    • , W. S. Harpole
    •  & E. W. Seabloom
  • Article
    | Open Access

    Eutrophication has been shown to weaken diversity-stability relationships in grasslands, but it is unclear whether the effect depends on scale. Analysing a globally distributed network of grassland sites, the authors show a positive role of beta diversity and spatial asynchrony as drivers of stability but find that nitrogen enrichment weakens the diversity-stability relationships at different spatial scales.

    • Yann Hautier
    • , Pengfei Zhang
    •  & Shaopeng Wang
  • Article
    | Open Access

    Nitrogen mineralisation (Nmin), an important index of soil fertility, is often determined in the laboratory, with an uncertain relationship to Nmin under field conditions. Here the authors show that combining laboratory measurements with environmental data greatly improves predictions of field Nmin at a global scale.

    • A. C. Risch
    • , S. Zimmermann
    •  & B. Moser
  • Article
    | Open Access

    Here, Schuldt et al. collate data from two long-term grassland and forest biodiversity experiments to ask how plant diversity facets affect the diversity of higher trophic levels. The results show that positive effects of plant diversity on consumer diversity are mediated by plant structural and functional diversity, and vary across ecosystems and trophic levels.

    • Andreas Schuldt
    • , Anne Ebeling
    •  & Nico Eisenhauer
  • Article
    | Open Access

    Plant diversity affects ecosystem function in myriad ways, but the effect on food webs has received less investigation. Here, the authors use high-resolution food web data from a grassland diversity experiment to show that apparent and exploitative competition motifs increase with plant diversity.

    • Darren P. Giling
    • , Anne Ebeling
    •  & Jes Hines
  • Article
    | Open Access

    The expansion of grassland plant diversity is thought to have facilitated diversification of herbivorous insects. Here, the authors show opposing evolutionary dynamics in a clade of African grasses and associated stemborers, opposing the hypothesis about grasslands as a 'cradle' of herbivore diversity.

    • Gael J. Kergoat
    • , Fabien L. Condamine
    •  & Bruno Le Ru
  • Article
    | Open Access

    Protection of rare species requires advanced understanding of the reasons for their rarity. Here, Hallett et al. show that potential growth rate and density dependence together predict rarity vs. abundance, and that the stability of species of similar sizes depends on the relative strength of these two mechanisms.

    • Lauren M. Hallett
    • , Emily C. Farrer
    •  & Richard J. Hobbs
  • Article
    | Open Access

    Biodiversity declines can be difficult to attribute to habitat loss at large spatial scales. Here, the authors document land-use change in Sweden at high spatial resolution over 70 years, showing that habitat loss at local and landscape scales is associated with reduced grassland biodiversity.

    • Alistair G. Auffret
    • , Adam Kimberley
    •  & Emelie Waldén
  • Article
    | Open Access

    Effects of habitat restoration on belowground organisms and ecosystem processes are poorly understood. Morriën and colleagues show that changes in the composition and network interactions of soil biota lead to improved carbon uptake efficiency when formerly cultivated land is restored.

    • Elly Morriën
    • , S. Emilia Hannula
    •  & Wim H. van der Putten
  • Article
    | Open Access

    Species diversity is thought to play an important role in maintaining production stability. Shi et al.demonstrate that the dominant C4 plant also makes a substantial contribution to temporal stability in a grassland ecosystem subject to 15 years of experimental warming and hay harvest.

    • Zheng Shi
    • , Xia Xu
    •  & Yiqi Luo
  • Article
    | Open Access

    Environmental change can have indirect effects on populations by altering the outcome of competitive interactions. Here, Chu et al. show that although direct effects dominate the responses of grassland species to climate perturbations, indirect effects could be greater among species with smaller niche differences.

    • Chengjin Chu
    • , Andrew R. Kleinhesselink
    •  & Peter B. Adler
  • Article
    | Open Access

    Grasslands lose soil fertility when manure from grazing livestock is spread on croplands. Here, Sattari et al. show that in order to achieve production increases that will meet global milk and meat demands for 2050, grassland phosphorus inputs must increase four-fold relative to inputs from 2005.

    • S. Z. Sattari
    • , A. F. Bouwman
    •  & M. K. van Ittersum
  • Article
    | Open Access

    Long-term stability of ecological communities is vital for maintaining ecosystem functioning. Here, Blüthgen et al. show that greater land-use intensity in grasslands and forests can have negative impacts on the stability of plant and animal communities, driven primarily by variation in asynchrony between species.

    • Nico Blüthgen
    • , Nadja K. Simons
    •  & Martin M. Gossner
  • Article
    | Open Access

    It remains unclear whether exotic and native species are functionally different. Using a global grassland experiment, Seabloomet al. show that native and exotic species respond differently to two globally pervasive environmental changes, addition of mineral nutrients and alteration of herbivore density.

    • Eric W. Seabloom
    • , Elizabeth T. Borer
    •  & Louie Yang
  • Article |

    Rising levels of nitrogen deposition represents a major threat to the biodiversity and plant communities worldwide. Here Basto et al. show that increased nitrogen deposition results in reductions in the size and species richness of the seed bank in acid grassland soils.

    • Sofía Basto
    • , Ken Thompson
    •  & Mark Rees