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  1. Free, publicly-accessible full text available November 1, 2023
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  5. Global change drivers, such as anthropogenic nutrient inputs, are increasing globally. Nutrient deposition simultaneously alters plant biodiversity, species composition and ecosystem processes like aboveground biomass production. These changes are underpinned by species extinction, colonisation and shifting relative abundance. Here, we use the Price equation to quantify and link the contributions of species that are lost, gained or that persist to change in aboveground biomass in 59 experimental grassland sites. Under ambient (control) conditions, compositional and biomass turnover was high, and losses (i.e. local extinctions) were balanced by gains (i.e. colonisation). Under fertilisation, the decline in species richness resulted from increased species loss and decreases in species gained. Biomass increase under fertilisation resulted mostly from species that persist and to a lesser extent from species gained. Drivers of ecological change can interact relatively independently with diversity, composition and ecosystem processes and functions such as aboveground biomass due to the individual contributions of species lost, gained or persisting.
    Free, publicly-accessible full text available October 1, 2023
  6. More than ever, ecologists seek to employ herbarium collections to estimate plant functional traits from the past and across biomes. However, many trait measurements are destructive, which may preclude their use on valuable specimens. Researchers increasingly use reflectance spectroscopy to estimate traits from fresh or ground leaves, and to delimit or identify taxa. Here, we extend this body of work to non-destructive measurements on pressed, intact leaves, like those in herbarium collections. Using 618 samples from 68 species, we used partial least-squares regression to build models linking pressed-leaf reflectance spectra to a broad suite of traits, including leaf mass per area (LMA), leaf dry matter content (LDMC), equivalent water thickness, carbon fractions, pigments, and twelve elements. We compared these models to those trained on fresh- or ground-leaf spectra of the same samples. The traits our pressed-leaf models could estimate best were LMA (R2 = 0.932; %RMSE = 6.56), C (R2 = 0.855; %RMSE = 9.03), and cellulose (R2 = 0.803; %RMSE = 12.2), followed by water-related traits, certain nutrients (Ca, Mg, N, and P), other carbon fractions, and pigments (all R2 = 0.514–0.790; %RMSE = 12.8–19.6). Remaining elements were predicted poorly (R2 < 0.5, %RMSE > 20). For most chemicalmore »traits, pressed-leaf models performed better than fresh-leaf models, but worse than ground-leaf models. Pressed-leaf models were worse than fresh-leaf models for estimating LMA and LDMC, but better than ground-leaf models for LMA. Finally, in a subset of samples, we used partial least-squares discriminant analysis to classify specimens among 10 species with near-perfect accuracy (>97%) from pressed- and ground-leaf spectra, and slightly lower accuracy (>93%) from fresh-leaf spectra. These results show that applying spectroscopy to pressed leaves is a promising way to estimate leaf functional traits and identify species without destructive analysis. Pressed-leaf spectra might combine advantages of fresh and ground leaves: like fresh leaves, they retain some of the spectral expression of leaf structure; but like ground leaves, they circumvent the masking effect of water absorption. Our study has far-reaching implications for capturing the wide range of functional and taxonomic information in the world’s preserved plant collections.« less
    Free, publicly-accessible full text available September 27, 2023
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  8. 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 2more »fixation in grasslands, and these effects cannot be reversed by additional P amendment.« less
    Free, publicly-accessible full text available September 1, 2023
  9. Prieto Aguilar, Iván (Ed.)
    The use of trait-based approaches to understand ecological communities has increased in the past two decades because of their promise to preserve more information about community structure than taxonomic methods and their potential to connect community responses to subsequent effects of ecosystem functioning. Though trait-based approaches are a powerful tool for describing ecological communities, many important properties of commonly-used trait metrics remain unexamined. Previous work in studies that simulate communities and trait distributions show consistent sensitivity of functional richness and evenness measures to the number of traits used to calculate them, but these relationships have yet to be studied in actual plant communities with a realistic distribution of trait values, ecologically meaningful covariation of traits, and a realistic number of traits available for analysis. Therefore, we propose to test how the number of traits used and the correlation between traits used in the calculation of functional diversity indices impacts the magnitude of eight functional diversity metrics in real plant communities. We will use trait data from three grassland plant communities in the US to assess the generality of our findings across ecosystems and experiments. We will determine how eight functional diversity metrics (functional richness, functional evenness, functional divergence, functional dispersion,more »kernel density estimation (KDE) richness, KDE evenness, KDE dispersion, Rao’s Q) differ based on the number of traits used in the metric calculation and on the correlation of traits when holding the number of traits constant. Without a firm understanding of how a scientist’s choices impact these metric, it will be difficult to compare results among studies with different metric parametrization and thus, limit robust conclusions about functional composition of communities across systems.« less
    Free, publicly-accessible full text available August 25, 2023