Global change alters ecosystems and their functioning, and biotic interactions can either buffer or amplify such changes. We utilized a long‐term nitrogen (N) addition and species removal experiment in the Front Range of Colorado, USA to determine whether a codominant forb and a codominant grass, with different effects on nutrient cycling and plant community structure, would buffer or amplify the effects of simulated N deposition on soil bacterial and fungal communities. While the plant community was strongly shaped by both the presence of dominant species and N addition, we did not find a mediating effect of the plant community on soil microbial response to N. In contrast to our hypothesis, we found a decoupling of the plant and microbial communities such that the soil microbial community shifted under N independently of directional shifts in the plant community. These findings suggest there are not strong cascading effects of N deposition across the plant–soil interface in our system.
Species dominance and biodiversity in plant communities have received considerable attention and characterisation. However, species codominance, while often alleged, is seldom defined or quantified. Codominance is a common phenomenon and is likely to be an important driver of community structure, ecosystem function and the stability of both. Here we review the use of the term ‘codominance’ and find inconsistencies in its use, suggesting that the scientific community currently lacks a universal understanding of codominance. We address this issue by: (1) qualitatively defining codominance as mostly shared abundance that is distinctively isolated within a subset of a community, and (2) presenting a novel metric for quantifying the degree to which relative abundances are shared among a codominant subset of plant species, while also accounting for the remaining species within a plant community. Using both simulated and real‐world data, we then demonstrate the process of applying the codominance metric to compare communities and to generate a quantitatively defensible subset of species to consider codominant within a community. We show that our metric effectively distinguishes the degree of codominance between four types of grassland ecosystems as well as simulated ecosystems with varying degrees of abundance sharing among community members. Overall, we make more »
- Award ID(s):
- Publication Date:
- NSF-PAR ID:
- Journal Name:
- New Phytologist
- Page Range or eLocation-ID:
- p. 1716-1730
- Sponsoring Org:
- National Science Foundation
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