More salt, please:global patterns, responses, and impacts of foliar sodium in grasslands

Borer, Elizabeth T. and Lind, Eric M. and Firn, Jennifer and Seabloom, Eric W. and Anderson, T. Michael and Bakker, J. and Biederman, Lori A. and La Pierre, K.J. and MacDougall, Andrew S. and Moore, Joslin L. and Risch, Anita C. and Schütz, Martin and Stevens, Carly (2019) More salt, please:global patterns, responses, and impacts of foliar sodium in grasslands. Ecology Letters, 22 (7). pp. 1136-1144. ISSN 1461-023X

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Sodium is unique among abundant elemental nutrients, because most plant species do not require it for growth or development, whereas animals physiologically require sodium. Foliar sodium influences consumption rates by animals and can structure herbivores across landscapes. We quantified foliar sodium in 201 locally abundant, herbaceous species representing 32 families and, at 26 sites on four continents, experimentally manipulated vertebrate herbivores and elemental nutrients to determine their effect on foliar sodium. Foliar sodium varied taxonomically and geographically, spanning five orders of magnitude. Site‐level foliar sodium increased most strongly with site aridity and soil sodium; nutrient addition weakened the relationship between aridity and mean foliar sodium. Within sites, high sodium plants declined in abundance with fertilisation, whereas low sodium plants increased. Herbivory provided an explanation: herbivores selectively reduced high nutrient, high sodium plants. Thus, interactions among climate, nutrients and the resulting nutritional value for herbivores determine foliar sodium biogeography in herbaceous‐dominated systems.

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Journal Article
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Ecology Letters
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This is the peer reviewed version of the following article:Borer, E. T., Lind, E. M., Firn, J. , Seabloom, E. W., Anderson, T. M., Bakker, E. S., Biederman, L. , La Pierre, K. J., MacDougall, A. S., Moore, J. L., Risch, A. C., Schutz, M. and Stevens, C. J. (2019), More salt, please: global patterns, responses and impacts of foliar sodium in grasslands. Ecol Lett. doi:10.1111/ele.13270 which has been published in final form at This article may be used for non-commercial purposes in accordance With Wiley Terms and Conditions for self-archiving.
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13 May 2019 09:10
Last Modified:
21 Sep 2023 02:37