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Rapid plant species loss at high rates and at low frequency of N addition in temperate steppe

Authors

  • Yunhai Zhang,

    1. State Key Laboratory of Vegetation and Environmental Change, Institute of Botany, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Beijing, China
    2. State Key Laboratory of Forest and Soil Ecology, Institute of Applied Ecology, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Shenyang, China
    3. University of Chinese Academy of Sciences, Beijing, China
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  • Xiaotao Lü,

    Corresponding author
    1. State Key Laboratory of Forest and Soil Ecology, Institute of Applied Ecology, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Shenyang, China
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  • Forest Isbell,

    1. Department of Plant Biology, University of Georgia, Athens, GA, USA
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  • Carly Stevens,

    1. Lancaster Environment Centre, Lancaster University, Lancaster, UK
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  • Xu Han,

    1. State Key Laboratory of Vegetation and Environmental Change, Institute of Botany, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Beijing, China
    2. University of Chinese Academy of Sciences, Beijing, China
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  • Nianpeng He,

    1. Synthesis Research Center of Chinese Ecosystem Research Network, Institute of Geographic Sciences and Natural Resources Research, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Beijing, China
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  • Guangming Zhang,

    1. State Key Laboratory of Vegetation and Environmental Change, Institute of Botany, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Beijing, China
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  • Qiang Yu,

    1. State Key Laboratory of Forest and Soil Ecology, Institute of Applied Ecology, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Shenyang, China
    2. Department of Biology, Graduate Degree Program in Ecology, Colorado State University, Fort Collins, CO, USA
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  • Jianhui Huang,

    1. State Key Laboratory of Vegetation and Environmental Change, Institute of Botany, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Beijing, China
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  • Xingguo Han

    Corresponding author
    1. State Key Laboratory of Vegetation and Environmental Change, Institute of Botany, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Beijing, China
    2. State Key Laboratory of Forest and Soil Ecology, Institute of Applied Ecology, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Shenyang, China
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Abstract

Humans are both intentionally (fertilization) and unintentionally (atmospheric nutrient deposition) adding nutrients worldwide. Increasing availability of biologically reactive nitrogen (N) is one of the major drivers of plant species loss. It remains unclear, however, whether plant diversity will be equally reduced by inputs of reactive N coming from either small and frequent N deposition events or large and infrequent N fertilization events. By independently manipulating the rate and frequency of reactive N inputs, our study teases apart these potentially contrasting effects. Plant species richness decreased more quickly at high rates and at low frequency of N addition, which suggests that previous fertilization studies have likely over-estimated the effects of N deposition on plant species loss. N-induced species loss resulted from both acidification and ammonium toxicity. Further study of small and frequent N additions will be necessary to project future rates of plant species loss under increasing aerial N deposition.

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