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Research article2024Peer reviewedOpen access

Cumulative nitrogen enrichment alters the drivers of grassland overyielding

He, Miao; Barry, Kathryn E.; Soons, Merel B.; Allan, Eric; Cappelli, Seraina L.; Craven, Dylan; Dolezal, Jiri; Isbell, Forest; Lanta, Vojtech; Leps, Jan; Liang, Maowei; Mason, Norman; Palmborg, Cecilia; Pichon, Noemie A.; da Silveira Pontes, Laise; Reich, Peter B.; Roscher, Christiane; Hautier, Yann


Effects of plant diversity on grassland productivity, or overyielding, are found to be robust to nutrient enrichment. However, the impact of cumulative nitrogen (N) addition (total N added over time) on overyielding and its drivers are underexplored. Synthesizing data from 15 multi-year grassland biodiversity experiments with N addition, we found that N addition decreases complementarity effects and increases selection effects proportionately, resulting in no overall change in overyielding regardless of N addition rate. However, we observed a convex relationship between overyielding and cumulative N addition, driven by a shift from complementarity to selection effects. This shift suggests diminishing positive interactions and an increasing contribution of a few dominant species with increasing N accumulation. Recognizing the importance of cumulative N addition is vital for understanding its impacts on grassland overyielding, contributing essential insights for biodiversity conservation and ecosystem resilience in the face of increasing N deposition.15 multi-year grassland biodiversity experiments suggest that with increasing cumulative nitrogen addition, the effect of diversity on productivity becomes increasingly reliant on a small number of dominant species rather than on overall species richness.

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Communications biology
2024, Volume: 7, number: 1, article number: 309

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