No consistent effect of plant species richness on resistance to simulated climate change for above- or below-ground processes in managed grasslands

Published on 2017-06-17T05:00:00Z (GMT) by
Abstract Background Species richness affects processes and functions in many ecosystems. Since management of temperate grasslands is directly affecting species composition and richness, it can indirectly govern how systems respond to fluctuations in environmental conditions. Our aim in this study was to investigate whether species richness in managed grasslands can buffer the effects of drought and warming manipulations and hence increase the resistance to climate change. We established 45 plots in three regions across Germany, each with three different management regimes (pasture, meadow and mown pasture). We manipulated spring warming using open-top chambers and summer drought using rain-out shelters for 4 weeks. Results Measurements of species richness, above- and below-ground biomass and soil carbon and nitrogen concentrations showed significant but inconsistent differences among regions, managements and manipulations. We detected a three-way interaction between species richness, management and region, indicating that our study design was sensitive enough to detect even intricate effects. Conclusions We could not detect a pervasive effect of species richness on biomass differences between treatments and controls, indicating that a combination of spring warming and summer drought effects on grassland systems are not consistently moderated by species richness. We attribute this to the relatively high number of species even at low richness levels, which already provides the complementarity required for positive biodiversity–ecosystem functioning relationships. A review of the literature also indicates that climate manipulations largely fail to show richness-buffering, while natural experiments do, suggesting that such manipulations are milder than reality or incur treatment artefacts.

Cite this collection

Dormann, Carsten; von Riedmatten, Lars; Scherer-Lorenzen, Michael (2017): No consistent effect of plant species richness on resistance to simulated climate change for above- or below-ground processes in managed grasslands. figshare.

https://doi.org/10.6084/m9.figshare.c.3805477

Retrieved: 00:55, Aug 24, 2017 (GMT)