Soil heterogeneity and community composition jointly influence grassland biomass
Abstract:Question: Does the spatial pattern of nutrient supply modify community biomass responses to changes in both species composition and richness?
Location: Duke University Phytotron (Durham, North Carolina, USA).
Methods: We conducted a microcosm experiment to evaluate individual plant and whole community responses to species richness, species composition and soil nutrient heterogeneity. The experiment consisted of seven levels of species composition (all possible combinations of Lolium perenne, Poa pratensis and Plantago lanceolata) crossed with three levels of soil nutrient distribution (homogeneous, heterogeneous-up, and heterogeneous-down, where up and down indicates the location of a nutrient patch in either the upper or the lower half of the soil column, respectively).
Results: Communities containing Plantago and Lolium responded to nutrient heterogeneity by increasing above- and below-ground biomass. Nutrient heterogeneity also increased size inequalities among individuals of these species. Significant species composition × nutrient heterogeneity interactions on community biomass and individual size inequality were observed when nutrient patches were located in the upper 10 cm of the soil columns. However, root proliferation in nutrient patches was equivalent regardless of the vertical placement of the patch.
Conclusions: Our results suggest that nutrient heterogeneity may interact with plant species composition to determine community biomass, and that small-scale vertical differences in the location of nutrient patches affect individual and community responses to this heterogeneity.
Document Type: Research Article
Publication date: 2006-06-01
More about this publication?
- The Journal of Vegetation Science publishes original articles, short notes and review articles in the field of vegetation science, both methodological and theoretical studies, and descriptive and experimental studies of plant communities and plant populations. The Journal is the Official Organ of the International Association for Vegetation Science (IAVS).
- Editorial Board
- Information for Authors
- Submit a Paper
- Subscribe to this Title
- Membership Information
- Terms & Conditions
- Ingenta Connect is not responsible for the content or availability of external websites