Plant communities on nitrogen-rich soil are less sensitive to soil moisture than plant communities on nitrogen-poor soil

Tanvir Ahmed Shovon*, Danaë M.A. Rozendaal, Daniel Gagnon, Fidji Gendron, Mary Vetter, Mark C. Vanderwel

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

1 Citation (Scopus)

Abstract

Plant species composition and diversity are known to change across local gradients of light, moisture and nutrients, but ecologists still have a relatively limited understanding of how communities respond to multiple limiting resources. We used a trait-based approach to investigate how the functional composition and diversity of forest understorey plant communities change along gradients in light, soil moisture and nitrogen availability. We used a total of seven leaf, root and whole-plant traits for 55–78 species, and estimated the effects of the three resources on the mean and dispersion of these traits in understorey plant communities across 50 forest sites. Soil moisture and nitrogen availability (C/N ratio) both influenced plant community traits, but light availability (canopy openness) did not. Generally, increases in moisture and nitrogen both resulted in shifts towards more acquisitive resource use strategies, including greater leaf area, specific leaf area and maximum plant height, and lower leaf dry matter content, root dry matter content and rooting depth. Functional diversity of most traits also increased with increasing soil moisture and nitrogen. Although most traits varied with soil moisture on nitrogen-poor sites, moisture did not influence of the distribution of any traits on nitrogen-rich sites. Synthesis. Independent co-limitation of soil moisture and nitrogen appeared to influence the functional composition and diversity of understorey vegetation in our study area. The co-occurrence of species with resource acquisitive and conservative strategies on nitrogen-rich sites may make plant communities relatively resistant to changes to soil moisture. These results suggest that altered precipitation regimes under climate change could lead to greater changes in the composition and diversity of plant communities on nutrient-poor soils than on nutrient-rich soils.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)133-144
JournalJournal of Ecology
Volume108
Issue number1
Early online date10 Jul 2019
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Jan 2020

Fingerprint

soil nitrogen
plant community
plant communities
soil moisture
soil water
nitrogen
understory
soil
moisture
soil nutrient
leaf area
dry matter
resource
dry matter content
nutrients
light availability
rooting
resource use
species diversity
functional diversity

Keywords

  • community assembly
  • environmental filtering
  • light
  • multiple resource limitation
  • nitrogen
  • plant strategies
  • soil moisture
  • trait-based ecology

Cite this

Shovon, Tanvir Ahmed ; Rozendaal, Danaë M.A. ; Gagnon, Daniel ; Gendron, Fidji ; Vetter, Mary ; Vanderwel, Mark C. / Plant communities on nitrogen-rich soil are less sensitive to soil moisture than plant communities on nitrogen-poor soil. In: Journal of Ecology. 2020 ; Vol. 108, No. 1. pp. 133-144.
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title = "Plant communities on nitrogen-rich soil are less sensitive to soil moisture than plant communities on nitrogen-poor soil",
abstract = "Plant species composition and diversity are known to change across local gradients of light, moisture and nutrients, but ecologists still have a relatively limited understanding of how communities respond to multiple limiting resources. We used a trait-based approach to investigate how the functional composition and diversity of forest understorey plant communities change along gradients in light, soil moisture and nitrogen availability. We used a total of seven leaf, root and whole-plant traits for 55–78 species, and estimated the effects of the three resources on the mean and dispersion of these traits in understorey plant communities across 50 forest sites. Soil moisture and nitrogen availability (C/N ratio) both influenced plant community traits, but light availability (canopy openness) did not. Generally, increases in moisture and nitrogen both resulted in shifts towards more acquisitive resource use strategies, including greater leaf area, specific leaf area and maximum plant height, and lower leaf dry matter content, root dry matter content and rooting depth. Functional diversity of most traits also increased with increasing soil moisture and nitrogen. Although most traits varied with soil moisture on nitrogen-poor sites, moisture did not influence of the distribution of any traits on nitrogen-rich sites. Synthesis. Independent co-limitation of soil moisture and nitrogen appeared to influence the functional composition and diversity of understorey vegetation in our study area. The co-occurrence of species with resource acquisitive and conservative strategies on nitrogen-rich sites may make plant communities relatively resistant to changes to soil moisture. These results suggest that altered precipitation regimes under climate change could lead to greater changes in the composition and diversity of plant communities on nutrient-poor soils than on nutrient-rich soils.",
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Plant communities on nitrogen-rich soil are less sensitive to soil moisture than plant communities on nitrogen-poor soil. / Shovon, Tanvir Ahmed; Rozendaal, Danaë M.A.; Gagnon, Daniel; Gendron, Fidji; Vetter, Mary; Vanderwel, Mark C.

In: Journal of Ecology, Vol. 108, No. 1, 01.2020, p. 133-144.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

TY - JOUR

T1 - Plant communities on nitrogen-rich soil are less sensitive to soil moisture than plant communities on nitrogen-poor soil

AU - Shovon, Tanvir Ahmed

AU - Rozendaal, Danaë M.A.

AU - Gagnon, Daniel

AU - Gendron, Fidji

AU - Vetter, Mary

AU - Vanderwel, Mark C.

PY - 2020/1

Y1 - 2020/1

N2 - Plant species composition and diversity are known to change across local gradients of light, moisture and nutrients, but ecologists still have a relatively limited understanding of how communities respond to multiple limiting resources. We used a trait-based approach to investigate how the functional composition and diversity of forest understorey plant communities change along gradients in light, soil moisture and nitrogen availability. We used a total of seven leaf, root and whole-plant traits for 55–78 species, and estimated the effects of the three resources on the mean and dispersion of these traits in understorey plant communities across 50 forest sites. Soil moisture and nitrogen availability (C/N ratio) both influenced plant community traits, but light availability (canopy openness) did not. Generally, increases in moisture and nitrogen both resulted in shifts towards more acquisitive resource use strategies, including greater leaf area, specific leaf area and maximum plant height, and lower leaf dry matter content, root dry matter content and rooting depth. Functional diversity of most traits also increased with increasing soil moisture and nitrogen. Although most traits varied with soil moisture on nitrogen-poor sites, moisture did not influence of the distribution of any traits on nitrogen-rich sites. Synthesis. Independent co-limitation of soil moisture and nitrogen appeared to influence the functional composition and diversity of understorey vegetation in our study area. The co-occurrence of species with resource acquisitive and conservative strategies on nitrogen-rich sites may make plant communities relatively resistant to changes to soil moisture. These results suggest that altered precipitation regimes under climate change could lead to greater changes in the composition and diversity of plant communities on nutrient-poor soils than on nutrient-rich soils.

AB - Plant species composition and diversity are known to change across local gradients of light, moisture and nutrients, but ecologists still have a relatively limited understanding of how communities respond to multiple limiting resources. We used a trait-based approach to investigate how the functional composition and diversity of forest understorey plant communities change along gradients in light, soil moisture and nitrogen availability. We used a total of seven leaf, root and whole-plant traits for 55–78 species, and estimated the effects of the three resources on the mean and dispersion of these traits in understorey plant communities across 50 forest sites. Soil moisture and nitrogen availability (C/N ratio) both influenced plant community traits, but light availability (canopy openness) did not. Generally, increases in moisture and nitrogen both resulted in shifts towards more acquisitive resource use strategies, including greater leaf area, specific leaf area and maximum plant height, and lower leaf dry matter content, root dry matter content and rooting depth. Functional diversity of most traits also increased with increasing soil moisture and nitrogen. Although most traits varied with soil moisture on nitrogen-poor sites, moisture did not influence of the distribution of any traits on nitrogen-rich sites. Synthesis. Independent co-limitation of soil moisture and nitrogen appeared to influence the functional composition and diversity of understorey vegetation in our study area. The co-occurrence of species with resource acquisitive and conservative strategies on nitrogen-rich sites may make plant communities relatively resistant to changes to soil moisture. These results suggest that altered precipitation regimes under climate change could lead to greater changes in the composition and diversity of plant communities on nutrient-poor soils than on nutrient-rich soils.

KW - community assembly

KW - environmental filtering

KW - light

KW - multiple resource limitation

KW - nitrogen

KW - plant strategies

KW - soil moisture

KW - trait-based ecology

U2 - 10.1111/1365-2745.13251

DO - 10.1111/1365-2745.13251

M3 - Article

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SP - 133

EP - 144

JO - Journal of Ecology

JF - Journal of Ecology

SN - 0022-0477

IS - 1

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