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Out of the shadows : multiple nutrient limitations drive relationships among biomass, light and plant diversity

Colaborador(es): Harpole, W. Stanley. Department of Physiological Diversity, Helmholtz Center for Environmental Research – UFZ, Permoserstrasse 15, Leipzig 04318, Germany; German Centre for Integrative Biodiversity Research (iDiv) Halle-Jena-Leipzig, Deutscher Platz 5e, Leipzig 04103, Germany; Institute of Biology, Martin Luther University Halle-Wittenberg, Am Kirchtor 1, Halle (Saale) 06108, Germany. E-mail: stan.harpole@ufz.de | Sullivan, Lauren L. Department of Ecology, Evolution, and Behavior, University of MN, St. Paul, MN 55108, USA | Lind, Eric M. Department of Ecology, Evolution, and Behavior, University of MN, St. Paul, MN 55108, USA | Firn, Jennifer. School of Earth, Environmental and Biological Sciences, Science and Engineering Faculty, Queensland University of Technology (QUT), Brisbane, Qld 4001, Australia | Adler, Peter B. Department of Wildland Resources and the Ecology Center, Utah State University, Logan, UT 84322, USA | Borer, Elizabeth T. Department of Ecology, Evolution, and Behavior, University of MN, St. Paul, MN 55108, USA | Chase, Jonathan. German Centre for Integrative Biodiversity Research (iDiv) Halle-Jena-Leipzig, Deutscher Platz 5e, Leipzig 04103, Germany; Institute of Biology, Martin Luther University Halle-Wittenberg, Am Kirchtor 1, Halle (Saale) 06108, Germany | Chaneton, Enrique José. IFEVA/CONICET – Departamento de Recursos Naturales y Ambiente. Facultad de Agronomía, Universidad de Buenos Aires, Av. San Martín 4453 (C1417DSE), Buenos Aires, Argentina.
ISSN: 0269-8469.Tipo de material: Artículos y capítulos. Recurso electrónico.Tema(s): BIODIVERSITY | LIGHT | MULTIVARIATE CAUSAL RELATIONSHIPS | NUTRIENT LIMITATION | RESOURCE LIMITATION | Recursos en línea: Haga clic para acceso en línea | LINK AL EDITOR En: Functional Ecology Vol.31, no.9 (2017), p.1839-1846, grafs., il.Resumen: 1. The paradigmatic hypothesis for the effect of fertilisation on plant diversity represents a one-dimensional trade-off for plants competing for below-ground nutrients (generically) and above ground light: fertilisation reduces competition for nutrients while increasing biomass and thereby shifts competition for depleted available light. 2. The essential problem of this simple paradigm is that it misses both the multivariate and mechanistic nature of the factors that determine biodiversity as well as their causal relationships. 3. We agree that light limitation, as DeMalach and Kadmon argue, can indeed be an important factor associated with diversity loss, and we presented it as an integral part of our tests of the niche dimension hypothesis. 4. We disagree with DeMalach and Kadmon that light is the ‘main’ factor explaining diversity, because this misrepresents the causal structure represented in the design of our experiment in which multiple nutrient addition was the ultimate causal driver of a suite of correlated responses that included diversity and light, and especially live and dead biomass, which are the factors that control light depletion. 5. Our findings highlight that multiple nutrient limitations can structure plant diversity and composition independently of changes in light and biomass. For example, approximately onethird of our sites showed no significant increase in biomass with greater number of added nutrients yet still lost diversity when nutrients were added. 6. The important message is that while light limitation can be an important contributor to diversity loss, it is not a necessary mechanism.
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1. The paradigmatic hypothesis for the effect of fertilisation on plant diversity represents a one-dimensional trade-off for plants competing for below-ground nutrients (generically) and above ground light: fertilisation reduces competition for nutrients while increasing biomass and thereby shifts competition for depleted available light.
2. The essential problem of this simple paradigm is that it misses both the multivariate and mechanistic nature of the factors that determine biodiversity as well as their causal relationships.
3. We agree that light limitation, as DeMalach and Kadmon argue, can indeed be an important factor associated with diversity loss, and we presented it as an integral part of our tests of the niche dimension hypothesis.
4. We disagree with DeMalach and Kadmon that light is the ‘main’ factor explaining diversity, because this misrepresents the causal structure represented in the design of our experiment in which multiple nutrient addition was the ultimate causal driver of a suite of correlated responses that included diversity and light, and especially live and dead biomass, which are the factors that control light depletion.
5. Our findings highlight that multiple nutrient limitations can structure plant diversity and composition independently of changes in light and biomass. For example, approximately onethird of our sites showed no significant increase in biomass with greater number of added nutrients yet still lost diversity when nutrients were added.
6. The important message is that while light limitation can be an important contributor to diversity loss, it is not a necessary mechanism.

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