Competition for Light Causes Plant Biodiversity Loss After Eutrophication

  title={Competition for Light Causes Plant Biodiversity Loss After Eutrophication},
  author={Yann Hautier and Pascal Alex Niklaus and Andy Hector},
  pages={636 - 638}
Shedding Light on a Problem Human activities—mainly the application of fertilizers to farmland—have increased the availability of nutrients in terrestrial and aquatic ecosystems. In grasslands, nutrient enrichment reduces plant species diversity, but the mechanisms underlying this loss of biodiversity remain unclear. Hautier et al. (p. 636) use an experimental manipulation, addition of supplementary light to the grassland understory, which supports the idea that competition for light is the… 
Herbivores and nutrients control grassland plant diversity via light limitation
Testing the hypothesis that herbaceous plant species losses caused by eutrophication may be offset by increased light availability due to herbivory demonstrates that nutrients and herbivores can serve as counteracting forces to control local plant diversity through light limitation, independent of site productivity, soil nitrogen, herbivore type and climate.
Eutrophication weakens stabilizing effects of diversity in natural grasslands
The results demonstrate separate and synergistic effects of diversity and eutrophication on stability, emphasizing the need to understand how drivers of global change interactively affect the reliable provisioning of ecosystem services in real-world systems.
Plant species loss from European semi‐natural grasslands following nutrient enrichment – is it nitrogen or is it phosphorus?
P enrichment can present a greater threat to biodiversity than N enrichment in at least some terrestrial ecosystems, however, as N- and P-driven species loss appeared independent, the results suggest that simultaneously reducing N and P inputs is a prerequisite for maintaining maximum plant diversity.
Differential Mechanisms Drive Species Loss Under Artificial Shade and Fertilization in the Alpine Meadow of the Tibetan Plateau
Fertilization is an effective management strategy to promote community biomass but can simultaneously reduce species diversity in many grassland systems. Shifts in competition for resources have been
Species Ecological Strategy and Soil Phosphorus Supply Interactively Affect Plant Biomass and Phosphorus Concentration
Background and aimExcess soil phosphorus often constrains ecological restoration of degraded semi-natural grasslands in Western-Europe. Slow-growing species, often target for restoration, are at a
Phytodiversity of temperate permanent grasslands: ecosystem services for agriculture and livestock management for diversity conservation
Plant diversity has been reported to increase productivity. Farming practices aiming at conserving or increasing plant diversity are, however, usually less profitable than conventional ones. In this
Plant diversity effects on grassland productivity are robust to both nutrient enrichment and drought
It is found that diversity and the complementarity of species are important regulators of grassland ecosystem productivity, regardless of changes in other drivers of ecosystem function.
Win some, lose some: Mesocosm communities maintain community productivity despite lower phosphorus availability because of increased species diversity
It is found that species richness-driven increases in productivity were counterbalanced by resource-driven and species identity-driven reductions in productivity, which resulted in changes in ecosystem functioning, even though the net functional effects were close to zero.
Forest floor vegetation response to nitrogen deposition in Europe
It is found that the cover of plant species which prefer nutrient-poor soils (oligotrophic species) decreased the more the measured N deposition exceeded the empirical critical load (CL) for eutrophication effects (P = 0.002), and the observed gradual replacement of oligotrophicspecies by eutrophic species as a response to N deposition seems to be a general pattern.


The results indicate that litter and living biomass are largely substitutable in their inhibitory effects on species richness in highly productive successional grasslands due to their independent and equivalent capacities to attenuate light to very low levels.
Environmental and plant community determinants of species loss following nitrogen enrichment.
Higher species loss is found in communities with a lower soil cation exchange capacity, colder regional temperature, and larger production increase following N addition, independent of initial species richness, plant productivity, and the relative abundance of most plant functional groups.
Endangered plants persist under phosphorus limitation
It is shown that many more endangered plant species persist under phosphorus-limited than under nitrogen-limited conditions, and it is concluded that enhanced phosphorus is more likely to be the cause of species loss than nitrogen enrichment.
Fertilization effects on species density and primary productivity in herbaceous plant communities
It is argued that even long-term fertilization experiments are not good predictors of the relationship between species richness and productivity because they are relatively small-scale perturbations whereas the pattern of species richness over natural productivity gradients is influenced by long- term ecological and evolutionary processes.
Determinants of Species Richness in the Park Grass Experiment
The analysis demonstrates how multiple factors contribute to the observed diversity patterns and how environmental regulation of species pools can operate at the same spatial and temporal scale as biomass effects.
Direct and indirect control of grassland community structure by litter, resources, and biomass.
  • E. Lamb
  • Environmental Science
  • 2008
The lack of relationship between root biomass and species richness and evenness suggests that, even though root competition in grasslands is intense, belowground interactions may not play an important role in structuring community diversity or composition.
Species Richness of Experimental Productivity Gradients: How Important is Colonization Limitation?
Results suggest that diversity is lower in productive grasslands because accumulated litter, and possibly lower light penetration, inhibit germination and/or survival of seedlings, and thus decrease rates of establishment by new species.
Structure and diversity of a species-rich grassland community, treated with additional illumination, fertilization and mowing
We examined the changes of species-rich herbaceous community canopy structure and species diversity in a five-year field experiment. Above- and below-ground resource addition (fertilization and
The Park Grass Experiment 1856–2006: its contribution to ecology
The experiment provides support for both the competitive exclusion and pool size hypotheses for determination of species density and suggests that comparisons among sites, nutrient inputs, especially N treatments, or soil acidity may in general underestimate the threat posed to plant species diversity by long-term changes in plant nutrient availability, both enrichment and depletion.
Differences in Light Interception in Grass Monocultures Predict Short-Term Competitive Outcomes under Productive Conditions
It is found that the level of incident light intercepted by each species in monoculture, a direct measure of resource-reduction ability, was an excellent predictor of the relative competitive effect in pairwise mixtures.