Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Too much water, fertilizer bad for plant diversity

28.03.2007
Study shows that polluted ecosystems support a limited number of species

Too much of multiple good things – water or nutrients, for example – may decrease the diversity of plant life in an ecosystem while increasing the productivity of a few species, a UC Irvine scientist has discovered.

This finding provides a new explanation for why grasslands, lakes and rivers polluted with nitrogen and phosphorus, usually from agriculture, contain a limited number of plant species. For example, where the Mississippi River empties into the Gulf of Mexico, the water contains low levels of oxygen and high levels of nitrogen and phosphorus used in fertilizers resulting in reduced plant diversity.

“Our results show nutrient pollution can cause loss of plant species from a habitat that can persist for more than 100 years,” said W. Stanley Harpole, postdoctoral researcher in ecology and evolutionary biology at UCI and first author of the study. “This means human actions that simplify habitats can lead to long-term loss of biodiversity.”

This study appeared March 25 in the online edition of the journal Nature.

The findings are based on experiments conducted at the University of California’s Sedgwick Reserve in the Santa Ynez Valley. Researchers applied combinations of water and nutrients – including nitrogen, phosphorus and cations – to plots of grassland and found that areas treated with all of the resources had the fewest number of species but the highest productivity of a select few plant types.

When the many resources that plants compete for become overly abundant, the environment simplifies, and an emphasis is placed on a single environmental factor such as space or sunlight. Only a few species best adapted to the new environmental conditions will thrive, Harpole said.

The experiment, combined with an analysis of a similar 150-year-old study, supports the scientists’ theory that plant diversity is directly related to the number of limiting factors such as levels of nitrogen, phosphorus, potassium and water.

G. David Tilman, professor of ecology at the University of Minnesota, collaborated with Harpole on this research. The study was supported by the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation.

About the University of California, Irvine: The University of California, Irvine is a top-ranked university dedicated to research, scholarship and community service. Founded in 1965, UCI is among the fastest-growing University of California campuses, with more than 25,000 undergraduate and graduate students and about 1,800 faculty members. The second-largest employer in dynamic Orange County, UCI contributes an annual economic impact of $3.7 billion. For more UCI news, visit www.today.uci.edu.

Television: UCI has a broadcast studio available for live or taped interviews. For more information, visit www.today.uci.edu/broadcast.

News Radio: UCI maintains on campus an ISDN line for conducting interviews with its faculty and experts. The use of this line is available free-of-charge to radio news programs/stations who wish to interview UCI faculty and experts. Use of the ISDN line is subject to availability and approval by the university.

Jennifer Fitzenberger | EurekAlert!
Further information:
http://www.uci.edu

More articles from Ecology, The Environment and Conservation:

nachricht Despite government claims, orangutan populations have not increased. Call for better monitoring
06.11.2018 | Deutsches Zentrum für integrative Biodiversitätsforschung (iDiv) Halle-Jena-Leipzig

nachricht Increasing frequency of ocean storms could alter kelp forest ecosystems
30.10.2018 | University of Virginia

All articles from Ecology, The Environment and Conservation >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: A Leap Into Quantum Technology

Faster and secure data communication: This is the goal of a new joint project involving physicists from the University of Würzburg. The German Federal Ministry of Education and Research funds the project with 14.8 million euro.

In our digital world data security and secure communication are becoming more and more important. Quantum communication is a promising approach to achieve...

Im Focus: Research icebreaker Polarstern begins the Antarctic season

What does it look like below the ice shelf of the calved massive iceberg A68?

On Saturday, 10 November 2018, the research icebreaker Polarstern will leave its homeport of Bremerhaven, bound for Cape Town, South Africa.

Im Focus: Penn engineers develop ultrathin, ultralight 'nanocardboard'

When choosing materials to make something, trade-offs need to be made between a host of properties, such as thickness, stiffness and weight. Depending on the application in question, finding just the right balance is the difference between success and failure

Now, a team of Penn Engineers has demonstrated a new material they call "nanocardboard," an ultrathin equivalent of corrugated paper cardboard. A square...

Im Focus: Coping with errors in the quantum age

Physicists at ETH Zurich demonstrate how errors that occur during the manipulation of quantum system can be monitored and corrected on the fly

The field of quantum computation has seen tremendous progress in recent years. Bit by bit, quantum devices start to challenge conventional computers, at least...

Im Focus: Nanorobots propel through the eye

Scientists developed specially coated nanometer-sized vehicles that can be actively moved through dense tissue like the vitreous of the eye. So far, the transport of nano-vehicles has only been demonstrated in model systems or biological fluids, but not in real tissue. The work was published in the journal Science Advances and constitutes one step further towards nanorobots becoming minimally-invasive tools for precisely delivering medicine to where it is needed.

Researchers of the “Micro, Nano and Molecular Systems” Lab at the Max Planck Institute for Intelligent Systems in Stuttgart, together with an international...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

VideoLinks
Industry & Economy
Event News

“3rd Conference on Laser Polishing – LaP 2018” Attracts International Experts and Users

09.11.2018 | Event News

On the brain’s ability to find the right direction

06.11.2018 | Event News

European Space Talks: Weltraumschrott – eine Gefahr für die Gesellschaft?

23.10.2018 | Event News

 
Latest News

In focus: Peptides, the “little brothers and sisters” of proteins

12.11.2018 | Life Sciences

Materials scientist creates fabric alternative to batteries for wearable devices

12.11.2018 | Materials Sciences

A two-atom quantum duet

12.11.2018 | Physics and Astronomy

VideoLinks
Science & Research
Overview of more VideoLinks >>>