Intraspecific litter diversity and nitrogen deposition affect nutrient dynamics and soil respiration
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- Madritch, M.D. & Hunter, M.D. Oecologia (2003) 136: 124. doi:10.1007/s00442-003-1253-0
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Anthropogenic forces are concurrently reducing biodiversity and altering terrestrial nutrient cycles. As natural populations decline, genetic diversity within single species also declines. The consequences of intraspecific genetic loss for ecosystem functions are poorly understood, and interactions among intraspecific diversity, nitrogen deposition, and nutrient cycling are unknown. We present results from an experiment that simulated both a decline in biodiversity and an increase in nitrogen deposition. In soil microcosms, we tested effects of variation in intraspecific litter diversity and nitrogen deposition on soil respiration and nitrogen leaching. Increases in intraspecific litter diversity increased soil respiration overall, with the greatest increases in respiration occurring under high nitrogen deposition. Nitrogen deposition increased the amount of inorganic nitrogen leached, while the amount of dissolved organic nitrogen leached was correlated with initial litter chemistry (lignin concentration) and remained independent of litter diversity and nitrogen deposition treatments. Our results demonstrate the potential for losses in genetic diversity to interact with other global environmental changes to influence terrestrial nutrient cycles.