In the last 50 years levels of plant-available nitrogen and phosphorous have doubled worldwide. This additional supply of plant nutrients is predicted to be one of the three most important causes of biodiversity loss this century.
The research, under the leadership of Professor Andy Hector from the University of Zurich, shows for the first time the exact mechanisms that lead to the loss of biodiversity from grasslands following fertilization.
Competition Following the 'Winner-takes-all' Principle
Different plant species profit from nutrient addition to different degrees with some species growing much faster than before. Consequently, some understory species are overgrown by their faster growing neighbours, shaded and without access to sufficient sunlight eventually die out. With the help Pascal Niklaus from the ETH Zurich, researchers from the University of Zurich established an ingenious experiment where they added artifical light to the understory of fertilized grasslands. This additional light countered the negative effects of fertilization and prevented the loss of plant diversity. Counter to earlier beliefs, competition for soil nutrients had no influence on changes in grassland diversity.
«This study is the first direct experimental proof that competition for light is the main mechanism of plant biodiversity loss after fertilization» says Yann Hautier summarizing the results of his PhD work. «The addition of nutrients causes competition for the vital sunlight to follow a 'winner-takes-all' principle.»
Consequences for Management of Grasslands
Competition for light following eutrophication is one of the main causes of the loss of plant diversity. The results of the work from Hector's research group have implications for sustainable management of grasslands and for the development of conservation policy. «Our research shows that it is necessary to control nutrient enrichment if plant diversity is to be conserved in the long term» concludes Andy Hector.
Yann Hautier, Pascal A. Niklaus, Andrew Hector: Competition for Light Causes Plant Biodiversity Loss Following Eutrophication, in: Science (Volume 324, Issue 5927)
Contact:Prof. Andrew Hector
Prof. Andrew Hector | EurekAlert!
Faba fix for corn's nitrogen need
11.04.2018 | American Society of Agronomy
Wheat research discovery yields genetic secrets that could shape future crops
09.04.2018 | John Innes Centre
At the Hannover Messe 2018, the Bundesanstalt für Materialforschung und-prüfung (BAM) will show how, in the future, astronauts could produce their own tools or spare parts in zero gravity using 3D printing. This will reduce, weight and transport costs for space missions. Visitors can experience the innovative additive manufacturing process live at the fair.
Powder-based additive manufacturing in zero gravity is the name of the project in which a component is produced by applying metallic powder layers and then...
Physicists at the Laboratory for Attosecond Physics, which is jointly run by Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität and the Max Planck Institute of Quantum Optics, have developed a high-power laser system that generates ultrashort pulses of light covering a large share of the mid-infrared spectrum. The researchers envisage a wide range of applications for the technology – in the early diagnosis of cancer, for instance.
Molecules are the building blocks of life. Like all other organisms, we are made of them. They control our biorhythm, and they can also reflect our state of...
University of Connecticut researchers have created a biodegradable composite made of silk fibers that can be used to repair broken load-bearing bones without the complications sometimes presented by other materials.
Repairing major load-bearing bones such as those in the leg can be a long and uncomfortable process.
Study published in the journal ACS Applied Materials & Interfaces is the outcome of an international effort that included teams from Dresden and Berlin in Germany, and the US.
Scientists at the Helmholtz-Zentrum Dresden-Rossendorf (HZDR) together with colleagues from the Helmholtz-Zentrum Berlin (HZB) and the University of Virginia...
Novel highly efficient and brilliant gamma-ray source: Based on model calculations, physicists of the Max PIanck Institute for Nuclear Physics in Heidelberg propose a novel method for an efficient high-brilliance gamma-ray source. A giant collimated gamma-ray pulse is generated from the interaction of a dense ultra-relativistic electron beam with a thin solid conductor. Energetic gamma-rays are copiously produced as the electron beam splits into filaments while propagating across the conductor. The resulting gamma-ray energy and flux enable novel experiments in nuclear and fundamental physics.
The typical wavelength of light interacting with an object of the microcosm scales with the size of this object. For atoms, this ranges from visible light to...
13.04.2018 | Event News
12.04.2018 | Event News
09.04.2018 | Event News
25.04.2018 | Physics and Astronomy
25.04.2018 | Materials Sciences
25.04.2018 | Studies and Analyses