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Title: Nitrogen but not phosphorus addition affects symbiotic N2 fixation by legumes in natural and semi-natural grasslands located on four continents
Abstract Background and aims The amount of nitrogen (N) derived from symbiotic N 2 fixation by legumes in grasslands might be affected by anthropogenic N and phosphorus (P) inputs, but the underlying mechanisms are not known. Methods We evaluated symbiotic N 2 fixation in 17 natural and semi-natural grasslands on four continents that are subjected to the same full-factorial N and P addition experiment, using the 15 N natural abundance method. Results N as well as combined N and P (NP) addition reduced aboveground legume biomass by 65% and 45%, respectively, compared to the control, whereas P addition had no significant impact. Addition of N and/or P had no significant effect on the symbiotic N 2 fixation per unit legume biomass. In consequence, the amount of N fixed annually per grassland area was less than half in the N addition treatments compared to control and P addition, irrespective of whether the dominant legumes were annuals or perennials. Conclusion Our results reveal that N addition mainly impacts symbiotic N 2 fixation via reduced biomass of legumes rather than changes in N 2 fixation per unit legume biomass. The results show that soil N enrichment by anthropogenic activities significantly reduces N 2 more » fixation in grasslands, and these effects cannot be reversed by additional P amendment. « less
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Award ID(s):
Publication Date:
Journal Name:
Plant and Soil
Page Range or eLocation-ID:
689 to 707
Sponsoring Org:
National Science Foundation
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