Nutrient identity modifies the destabilising effects of eutrophication in grasslands

Carroll, O. and Batzer, E. and Bharath, S. and Borer, E.T. and Campana, S. and Esch, E. and Hautier, Y. and Ohlert, T. and Seabloom, E.W. and Adler, P.B. and Bakker, J.D. and Biederman, L. and Bugalho, M.N. and Caldeira, M. and Chen, Q. and Davies, K.F. and Fay, P.A. and Knops, J.M.H. and Komatsu, K. and Martina, J.P. and McCann, K.S. and Moore, J.L. and Morgan, J.W. and Muraina, T.O. and Osborne, B. and Risch, A.C. and Stevens, C. and Wilfahrt, P.A. and Yahdjian, L. and MacDougall, A.S. (2022) Nutrient identity modifies the destabilising effects of eutrophication in grasslands. Ecology Letters, 25 (4). pp. 754-765. ISSN 1461-023X

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Nutrient enrichment can simultaneously increase and destabilise plant biomass production, with co-limitation by multiple nutrients potentially intensifying these effects. Here, we test how factorial additions of nitrogen (N), phosphorus (P) and potassium with essential nutrients (K+) affect the stability (mean/standard deviation) of aboveground biomass in 34 grasslands over 7 years. Destabilisation with fertilisation was prevalent but was driven by single nutrients, not synergistic nutrient interactions. On average, N-based treatments increased mean biomass production by 21–51% but increased its standard deviation by 40–68% and so consistently reduced stability. Adding P increased interannual variability and reduced stability without altering mean biomass, while K+ had no general effects. Declines in stability were largest in the most nutrient-limited grasslands, or where nutrients reduced species richness or intensified species synchrony. We show that nutrients can differentially impact the stability of biomass production, with N and P in particular disproportionately increasing its interannual variability.

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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:Carroll, O., Batzer, E., Bharath, S., Borer, E.T., Campana, S., Esch, E., et al. (2022) Nutrient identity modifies the destabilising effects of eutrophication in grasslands. Ecology Letters, 25, 754– 765. Available from: 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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28 Jan 2022 12:15
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21 Sep 2023 03:12