Fertilized graminoids intensify negative drought effects on grassland productivity

Research output: Journal contributionsJournal articlesResearchpeer-review


  • Kevin Van Sundert
  • Mohammed A.S. Arfin Khan
  • Siddharth Bharath
  • Yvonne M. Buckley
  • Maria C. Caldeira
  • Ian Donohue
  • Maren Dubbert
  • Anne Ebeling
  • Nico Eisenhauer
  • Anu Eskelinen
  • Alain Finn
  • Tobias Gebauer
  • Amandine Hansart
  • Anke Jentsch
  • Angelika Kübert
  • Ivan Nijs
  • Charles A. Nock
  • Carla Nogueira
  • Anita J. Porath-Krause
  • Dajana Radujković
  • Xavier Raynaud
  • Anita C. Risch
  • Christiane Roscher
  • Michael Scherer-Lorenzen
  • Max A. Schuchardt
  • Martin Schütz
  • Julia Siebert
  • Judith Sitters
  • Marie Spohn
  • Risto Virtanen
  • Christiane Werner
  • Peter Wilfahrt
  • Sara Vicca

Droughts can strongly affect grassland productivity and biodiversity, but responses differ widely. Nutrient availability may be a critical factor explaining this variation, but is often ignored in analyses of drought responses. Here, we used a standardized nutrient addition experiment covering 10 European grasslands to test if full-factorial nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium addition affected plant community responses to inter-annual variation in drought stress and to the extreme summer drought of 2018 in Europe. We found that nutrient addition amplified detrimental drought effects on community aboveground biomass production. Drought effects also differed between functional groups, with a negative effect on graminoid but not forb biomass production. Our results imply that eutrophication in grasslands, which promotes dominance of drought-sensitive graminoids over forbs, amplifies detrimental drought effects. In terms of climate change adaptation, agricultural management would benefit from taking into account differential drought impacts on fertilized versus unfertilized grasslands, which differ in ecosystem services they provide to society.

Original languageEnglish
JournalGlobal Change Biology
Issue number11
Pages (from-to)2441-2457
Number of pages17
Publication statusPublished - 01.06.2021
Externally publishedYes

Bibliographical note

This work was generated using data from the Nutrient Network (http://www.nutnet.org) experiment, funded at the site-scale by individual researchers. Coordination and data management have been supported by funding to E. Borer and E. Seabloom from the National Science Foundation Research Coordination Network (NSF-DEB-1042132) and Long Term Ecological Research (NSF-DEB-1234162 and NSF-DEB-1831944 to Cedar Creek LTER) programs, and the Institute on the Environment (DG-0001-13). We also thank the Minnesota Supercomputer Institute for hosting project data and the Institute on the Environment for hosting Network meetings. K.V.S., J.S., and S.V. acknowledge support from the Fund for Scientific Research (FWO), Flanders (Belgium). A.E. was funded by the Academy of Finland (projects 253385 and 297191). This work has benefited from technical and human resources provided by CEREEP-Ecotron IleDeFrance (CNRS/ENS UMS 3194) as well as financial support from the Regional Council of Ile-de-France under the DIM Program R2DS bearing the reference I-05-098/R. It has received a support under the program “Investissements d'Avenir” launched by the French government and implemented by ANR with the reference ANR-11-INBS-0001 AnaEE France and ANR-10-IDEX-0001-02 PSL. The German study site at the university of Bayreuth was supported by the German Ministry for Education and Research (BMBF) funding the SUSALPS project “Sustainable Use of Alpine and Pre-alpine Grassland Soils in a Changing Climate”; under Grant number: FKZ 031B0516C. We acknowledge Companhia das Lezírias (Portugal) for permission to undertake grassland research and FCT for funding CEF (UID/AGR/00239/2019).

Publisher Copyright:
© 2021 John Wiley & Sons Ltd.