NGE01 Chronic Addition of Nitrogen Gradient Experiment (ChANGE): Assessing threshold responses of plant community composition and ecosystem processes at Konza Prairie

Summary

Abstract: 

Chronic nutrient additions can lead to drastic shifts in the plant community through time, both within tallgrass prairie in other grassland ecosystems worldwide. Nutrient addition experiments have answered many questions about patterns of diversity loss and community shifts; however, the level of nutrients which must be added to cause community shifts is unknown. To date, all nitrogen (N) addition experiments at Konza have added 10 g m-2 (e.g., NutNet Plots; Phosphorus (P) Plots; Belowground Plots), yet current rates of N deposition are one-tenth of that level. Even predicted rates of future N deposition in grasslands are not expected to exceed 5 g m-2 by the year 2050 and will likely be around 2 g m-2 for most of the US. This mismatch begs the question will 10 g/m2 affect grasslands the same way 2 or 5 g m-2 will? There are two main goals for this long-term experiment (1) to identify the nutrient threshold needed to drive plant community change with nutrient additions, and (2) to determine what factors underlie those threshold responses (build up of nutrients, mycorrhizal loss, invertebrate herbivory). Konza ChANGE is part of a multi-site experiment spanning grasslands on two different continents: North America – tallgrass prairie (KNZ) and shortgrass steppe (SGS), and China – three sites in Inner Mongolia. By including multiple grasslands, we expand our ability to make generalizations about how grasslands are affected by N additions, and whether thresholds, if they exist, vary with precipitation, natural nutrient availability, and species identity/composition. Research Questions: (1) Do ecosystems have N tolerance thresholds above which community composition will change, and does that differ between grassland types (i.e. mesic and xeric grasslands)? (2) Does adding a large amount of nutrients in one season result in an equivalent community change as adding a small amount over multiple years? (For example does 5 g m-2 for 6 years create the same community change as 30 g m-2 for 1 year or 15 g m-2 for 2 years?) (3) Will predicted levels of N deposition (2.5 g m-2 or 5 g m-2) elicit a community change? (4) Are there different thresholds for different plant functional types? For example, does a small amount of nutrients cause a decrease in N-fixing forb composition, while a larger amount of nutrients are necessary to reduce the abundance of the dominant C4 grasses? At what point does the community change state from a perennial grassland to the predicted annual forb community? Is it a gradual linear change or an abrupt transition? (5) Is decreased light availability due to increased ANPP the primary determinant leading to community shifts (like it is for species loss), or do other factors determine when nutrients cause a shift in community composition and structure such as interactions with invertebrate herbivory or loss of mycorrhizal symbionts.

DOI: 

10.6073/pasta/9a84b397630abe7df84df708e03d2a23

Data set ID: 

129

Data sources: 

Variables: 

Datacode
  • Label:
  • Definition: Data set code
  • Type: Nominal
  • Missing values: None specified
Rectype
  • Label:
  • Definition: Record type
  • Type: Nominal
  • Missing values: None specified
RecYear
  • Label:
  • Definition: RecYear ANPP was collected
  • Type: Physical quantity
  • Unit: Year (YYYY)
  • Maximum: Not specified
  • Minimum: Not specified
  • Precision: Not specified
  • Missing values: None specified
Block
  • Label:
  • Definition: block designation: A-F
  • Type: Nominal
  • Missing values: None specified
Plot
  • Label:
  • Definition: plot designation: 1-48
  • Type: Nominal
  • Missing values: None specified
grass
  • Label:
  • Definition: dried mass of grass taxa in grams per 1m2
  • Type: Physical quantity
  • Unit: gramsPerSquareMeter
  • Maximum: Not specified
  • Minimum: Not specified
  • Precision: Not specified
  • Missing values: None specified
forb
  • Label:
  • Definition: dried mass of forb taxa in grams per 1m2
  • Type: Physical quantity
  • Unit: gramsPerSquareMeter
  • Maximum: Not specified
  • Minimum: Not specified
  • Precision: Not specified
  • Missing values: None specified
woody
  • Label:
  • Definition: dried mass of woody taxa in grams per 1m2
  • Type: Physical quantity
  • Unit: gramsPerSquareMeter
  • Maximum: Not specified
  • Minimum: Not specified
  • Precision: Not specified
  • Missing values: None specified
trt
  • Label:
  • Definition: nitrogen addition treatment designation: amount of nitrogen added in g N per m2 in eight levels (1-8 trt: 0; 2.5; 5; 7.5; 10; 15; 20; 30).
  • Type: Code list
  • Codes:
    • 1 = 0
    • 2 = 2.5
    • 3 = 5
    • 4 = 7.5
    • 5 = 10
    • 6 = 15
    • 7 = 20
    • 8 = 30
  • Missing values: None specified

Categories
Dates

Date Range: 

Tuesday, January 1, 2013 to Friday, December 30, 2016

Publication Date: 

Thursday, August 31, 2017
People

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Contact: 

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Role: 

Associated Researcher

Role: 

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Role: 

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