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Species richness alters spatial nutrient heterogeneity effects on above-ground plant biomass.

ABSTRACT: Previous studies have suggested that spatial nutrient heterogeneity promotes plant nutrient capture and growth. However, little is known about how spatial nutrient heterogeneity interacts with key community attributes to affect plant community production. We conducted a meta-analysis to investigate how nitrogen heterogeneity effects vary with species richness and plant density. Effect size was calculated using the natural log of the ratio in plant biomass between heterogeneous and homogeneous conditions. Effect sizes were significantly above zero, reflecting positive effects of spatial nutrient heterogeneity on community production. However, species richness decreased the magnitude of heterogeneity effects on above-ground biomass. The magnitude of heterogeneity effects on below-ground biomass did not vary with species richness. Moreover, we detected no modification in heterogeneity effects with plant density. Our results highlight the importance of species richness for ecosystem function. Asynchrony between above- and below-ground responses to spatial nutrient heterogeneity and species richness could have significant implications for biotic interactions and biogeochemical cycling in the long term.


PROVIDER: S-EPMC5746533 | BioStudies | 2017-01-01

REPOSITORIES: biostudies

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