Soil phosphorus constrains biodiversity across European grasslands

Ceulemans, Tobias and Stevens, Carly J. and Duchateau, Luc and Jacquemyn, Hans and Gowing, David J. G. and Merckx, Roel and Wallace, Hilary and van Rooijen, Nils and Goethem, Thomas and Bobbink, Roland and Dorland, Edu and Gaudnik, Cassandre and Alard, Didier and Corcket, Emmanuel and Muller, Serge and Dise, Nancy B. and Dupre, Cecilia and Diekmann, Martin and Honnay, Olivier (2014) Soil phosphorus constrains biodiversity across European grasslands. Global Change Biology, 20 (12). pp. 3814-3822. ISSN 1354-1013

Full text not available from this repository.


Nutrient pollution presents a serious threat to biodiversity conservation. In terrestrial ecosystems, the deleterious effects of nitrogen pollution are increasingly understood and several mitigating environmental policies have been developed. Compared to nitrogen, the effects of increased phosphorus have received far less attention, although some studies have indicated that phosphorus pollution may be detrimental for biodiversity as well. On the basis of a dataset covering 501 grassland plots throughout Europe, we demonstrate that, independent of the level of atmospheric nitrogen deposition and soil acidity, plant species richness was consistently negatively related to soil phosphorus. We also identified thresholds in soil phosphorus above which biodiversity appears to remain at a constant low level. Our results indicate that nutrient management policies biased toward reducing nitrogen pollution will fail to preserve biodiversity. As soil phosphorus is known to be extremely persistent and we found no evidence for a critical threshold below which no environmental harm is expected, we suggest that agro-environmental schemes should include grasslands that are permanently free from phosphorus fertilization.

Item Type:
Journal Article
Journal or Publication Title:
Global Change Biology
Uncontrolled Keywords:
ID Code:
Deposited By:
Deposited On:
18 Jun 2015 05:39
Last Modified:
22 Nov 2022 01:43