Advertisement

Oecologia

, Volume 156, Issue 3, pp 637–648 | Cite as

Linking nitrogen partitioning and species abundance to invasion resistance in the Great Basin

  • J. J. JamesEmail author
  • K. W. Davies
  • R. L. Sheley
  • Z. T. Aanderud
Community Ecology - Original Paper

Abstract

Resource partitioning has been suggested as an important mechanism of invasion resistance. The relative importance of resource partitioning for invasion resistance, however, may depend on how species abundance is distributed in the plant community. This study had two objectives. First, we quantified the degree to which one resource, nitrogen (N), is partitioned by time, depth and chemical form among coexisting species from different functional groups by injecting 15N into soils around the study species three times during the growing season, at two soil depths and as two chemical forms. A watering treatment also was applied to evaluate the impact of soil water content on N partitioning. Second, we examined the degree to which native functional groups contributed to invasion resistance by seeding a non-native annual grass into plots where bunchgrasses, perennial forbs or annual forbs had been removed. Bunchgrasses and forbs differed in timing, depth and chemical form of N capture, and these patterns of N partitioning were not affected by soil water content. However, when we incorporated abundance (biomass) with these relative measures of N capture to determine N sequestration by the community there was no evidence suggesting that functional groups partitioned different soil N pools. Instead, dominant bunchgrasses acquired the most N from all soil N pools. Consistent with these findings we also found that bunchgrasses were the only functional group that inhibited annual grass establishment. At natural levels of species abundance, N partitioning may facilitate coexistence but may not necessarily contribute to N sequestration and invasion resistance by the plant community. This suggests that a general mechanism of invasion resistance may not be expected across systems. Instead, the key mechanism of invasion resistance within a system may depend on trait variation among coexisting species and on how species abundance is distributed in the system.

Keywords

Cheatgrass Great Basin Medusahead Niche Nitrogen 

Notes

Acknowledgments

We thank D. Johnson, L. Starbuck, L. Ziegenhagen for help with field and lab work and J. Mangold and M. Rinella for manuscript reviews. This research was supported by the USDI BLM Great Basin Restoration Initiative and the USDA FS Rocky Mountain Research Station. Experiments conducted in this study comply with the current laws of the country in which they were performed.

References

  1. Arredondo JT, Jones TA, Johnson DA (1998) Seedling growth of intermountain perennial and weedy annual grasses. J Range Manage 51:584–589CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Beckstead J, Augspurger CK (2004) An experimental test of resistance to cheatgrass invasion: limiting resources at different life stages. Bio Invasions 6:417–432CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Bilbrough CJ, Caldwell MM (1997) Exploitation of springtime ephemeral N pulses by six Great Basin plant species. Ecology 78:231–243Google Scholar
  4. Blaisdell JP (1958) Seasonal development and yield of native plants in the upper Snake River Plains and their relation to certain climate factors. USDA Technical Bulletin 1190Google Scholar
  5. Booth MS, Caldwell MM, Stark JM (2003) Overlapping resource use in three Great Basin species: implications for community invasibility and vegetation dynamics. J Ecol 91:36–48CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. Bradford JB, Lauenroth WK (2006) Controls over invasion of Bromus tectorum: the importance of climate, soil, disturbance and seed availability. J Veg Sci 17:693–704CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Brooks ML (2003) Effects of increased soil nitrogen on the dominance of alien annual plants in the Mojave Desert. J Appl Ecol 40:344–353Google Scholar
  8. Chambers JC, Meyer SE, Whittaker A, Roundy BA, Blank RR (2007) What makes Great Basin sagebrush ecosystems invasible by Bromus tectorum? Ecol Monogr 77:117–145CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. Chapin FS, Walker BH, Hobbs RJ, Hooper DU, Lawton JH, Sala OE, Tilman D (1997) Biotic control over the functioning of ecosystems. Science 277:500–504CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. Chesson P, Gebauer RLE, Schwinning S, Huntly N, Wiegand K, Ernest MSK, Sher A, Novoplansky A, Weltzin JF (2004) Resource pulses, species interactions, and diversity maintenance in arid and semi-arid environments. Oecologia 141:236–253PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. Crawley MJ, Brown SL, Heard MS, Edwards GR (1999) Invasion-resistance in experimental grassland communities: species richness or species identity? Ecol Lett 2:140–148CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. D’Antonio CM, Vitousek PM (1992) Biological invasions by exotic grasses, the grass/fire cycle, and global change. Annu Rev Ecol Syst 23:63–87Google Scholar
  13. Davidson EA, Hart SC, Shanks CA, Firestone MK (1991) Measuring gross nitrogen mineralization, immobilization and nitrification by 15N isotopic pool dilutions in intact soil cores. J Soil Sci 42:335–349CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. Davis MA, Grime JP, Thompson K (2000) Fluctuating resources in plant communities: a general theory of invasibility. J Ecol 88:528–534CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. Diaz S, Symstad AJ, Chapin FS, Wardle DA, Huenneke LF (2003) Functional diversity revealed by removal experiments. Trends Ecol Evol 18:140–146CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. Dukes SE, Caldwell MM (2001) Nitrogen acquisition from different spatial distributions by six Great Basin plant species. West N Am Nat 61:93–102Google Scholar
  17. Eissenstat DM, Caldwell MM (1988) Seasonal timing of root growth in favorable microsites. Ecology 69:870–873CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. Fargione JE, Tilman D (2005) Diversity decreases invasion via both the sampling and complementarity effects. Ecol Lett 8:604–611CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. Fisher FM, Parker LW, Anderson JP, Whitford WG (1987) Nitrogen mineralization in a desert soil—interacting effects of soil moisture and nitrogen fertilizer. Soil Sci Soc Am J 51:1033–1041CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. Fitter AH (1986) Spatial and temporal patterns of root activity in a species rich alluvial grassland. Oecologia 69:594–599CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. Forster JC (1995) Soil nitrogen. In: Alef K, Nannipieri P (eds) Methods in applied soil microbiology and biochemistry. Academic Press, San Diego, CA, pp 79–87Google Scholar
  22. Gleeson SK, Tilman D (1992) Plant allocation and the multiple limitation hypothesis. Am Nat 139:1322–1343CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  23. Gleeson SK, Good RE (2003) Root allocation and multiple nutrient limitation in the New Jersey Pinelands. Ecol Lett 6:220–227CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  24. Grime JP (1987) Dominant and subordinate components of plant communities-implications for succession, stability and diversity. In: Gray AJ, Edwards PJ, Crawley MJ (eds) Colonization, succession and stability. Blackwell, Oxford, pp 413–428Google Scholar
  25. Grime JP (1998) Benefits of plant diversity to ecosystems: immediate, filter and founder effects. J Ecol 86:902–910CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  26. Harris GA (1967) Some competitive relationships between Agropyron spicatum and Bromus tectorum. Ecol Monogr 37:89–111CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  27. Harris GA, Wilson AM (1970) Competition for moisture among seedlings of annual and perennial grasses as influenced by root elongation at low temperatures. Ecology 51:529–534CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  28. Hart SC, Stark JM, Davidson EA, Firestone MK (1994) Nitrogen mineralization, immobilization, and nitrification. In: Methods of soil analysis, part 2: Microbiological and biochemical properties. Soil Science Society of America, Inc., Madison, WI, pp 985–1018Google Scholar
  29. Hooper DU, Vitousek PM (1997) The effects of plant composition and diversity on ecosystem processes. Science 277:1302–1305CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  30. Hooper DU, Johnson L (1999) Nitrogen limitation in dryland ecosystems: responses to geographical and temporal variation in precipitation. Biogeochemistry 46:247–293Google Scholar
  31. James JJ, Tiller RL, Richards JH (2005) Multiple resources limit plant growth and function in a saline–alkaline desert community. J Ecol 93:113–126CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  32. James JJ, Richards JH (2006) Plant nitrogen capture in pulse-driven systems: interactions between root responses and soil processes. J Ecol 94:765–777CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  33. Kahmen A, Perner J, Audorff V, Weisser W, Buchmann N (2005) Effects of plant diversity, community composition and environmental parameters on productivity in montane European grasslands. Oecologia 142:606–615PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  34. Kahmen A, Renker C, Unsicker SB, Buchmann N (2006) Niche complementarity for nitrogen: an explanation for the biodiversity and ecosystem functioning relationship. Ecology 87:1244–1255PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  35. Krueger-Mangold J, Sheley R, Engel R, Jacobsen J, Svejcar T, Zabinski C (2004) Identification of the limiting resource within a semi-arid plant association. J Arid Environ 58:309CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  36. Lavorel S, Garnier E (2002) Predicting changes in community composition and ecosystem functioning from plant traits: revisiting the Holy Grail. Funct Ecol 16:545–556CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  37. Mack RN, Pyke DA (1983) The demography of Bromus tectorum: variation in time and space. J Ecol 71:69–93CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  38. McKane RB, Grigal DF, Russelle MP (1990) Spatiotemporal differences in 15N uptake and the organization of an old-field plant community. Ecology 71:1126–1132CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  39. McKane RB, Johnson LC, Shaver GR, Nadelhoffer KJ, Rastetter EB, Fry B, Giblin AE, Kielland K, Kwiatkowski BL, Laundre JA, Murray G (2002) Resource-based niches provide a basis for plant species diversity and dominance in arctic tundra. Nature 415:68–71PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  40. Miller AE, Bowman WD (2002) Variation in nitrogen-15 natural abundance and nitrogen uptake traits among co-occurring alpine species: do species partition by nitrogen form? Oecologia 130:609–616CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  41. Miller AE, Bowman WD, Suding KN (2007) Plant uptake of inorganic and organic nitrogen: neighbor identity matters. Ecology 88:1832–1840PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  42. Miller ME, Reynolds RL, Beatty SW, Belnap J (2006) Performance of Bromus tectorum L. in relation to soil properties, water additions, and chemical amendments in calcareous soils of southeastern Utah, USA. Plant Soil 288:1–18CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  43. Miranda KM, Espey MG, Wink DA (2001) A rapid, simple spectrophotometric method for simultaneous determination of nitrate and nitrite. Nitric Oxide 5:62–71PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  44. Monaco TA, Johnson DA, Norton JM, Jones TA, Connors KJ, Norton JB, Redinbaugh MB (2003) Contrasting responses of intermountain west grasses to soil nitrogen. J Range Manage 56:282–290CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  45. Nadelhoffer KJ, Fry B (1994) Nitrogen isotope studies in forest ecosystems. In: Lajtha K, Michener R (eds) Stable isotopes in ecology. Blackwell, Oxford, pp 22–44Google Scholar
  46. Naeem S, Knops JMH, Tilman D, Howe KM, Kennedy TA, Gale S (2000) Plant diversity increases resistance to invasion in the absence of covarying extrinsic factors. Oikos 91:97–108CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  47. Neter J, Wasserman W, Kutner MH (1990) Applied linear statistical models: regression, analysis of variance and experimental design, 3rd edn. Irwin, Homewood, ILGoogle Scholar
  48. Newingham BA, Belnap J (2006) Direct effects of soil amendments on field emergence and growth of the invasive annual grass Bromus tectorum L. and the native perennial grass Hilaria jamesii (Torr.) Benth. Plant Soil 280:29–40CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  49. Noy-Meir I (1973) Desert ecosystems: environments and producers. Annu Rev Ecol Syst 4:25–51CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  50. Nye P, Tinker P (1977) Solute movement in the soil-root system. University of California Press, Berkeley, CAGoogle Scholar
  51. Paschke MW, McLendon T, Redente EF (2000) Nitrogen availability and old-field succession in a shortgrass steppe. Ecosystems 3:144–158CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  52. Prieur-Richard AH, Lavorel S, Grigulis K, Dos Santos A (2000) Plant community diversity and invasibility by exotics: invasion of Mediterranean old fields by Conyza bonariensis and Conyza canadensis. Ecol Lett 3:412–422CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  53. Rice WR (1989) Analyzing tables of statistical tests. Evolution 43:223–225CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  54. SAS (1999) Statistical software, version 8.0. SAS Institute Inc., Cary, NCGoogle Scholar
  55. Schwinning S, Ehleringer JR (2001) Water use trade-offs and optimal adaptations to pulse-driven arid ecosystems. J Ecol 89:464–480CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  56. Siddiqi MY, Glass ADM, Ruth TJ, Rufty TWJ (1990) Studies of the uptake of nitrate in barley. I. Kinetics of 13NO3 influx. Plant Physiol 93:1426–1432PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  57. Snyder KA, Donovan LA, James JJ, Tiller RL, Richards JH (2004) Extensive summer water pulses do not necessarily lead to canopy growth of Great Basin and northern Mojave Desert shrubs. Oecologia 141:325–334PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  58. Stark JM, Hart SC (1996) Diffusion technique for preparing salt solutions, Kjeldahl digests, and persulfate digests for nitrogen-15 analysis. Soil Sci Soc Am J 60:1846–1855CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  59. Stark JM (2000) Nutrient transformations. In: Sala OA, Jackson RB, Mooney HA, Howarth RW (eds) Methods in ecosystem science. Springer, New York, pp 215–231Google Scholar
  60. Stohlgren TJ, Binkley D, Chong GW, Kalkhan MA, Schell LD, Bull KA, Otsuki Y, Newman G, Baskin M, Son Y (1999) Exotic species invade hot spots of native plant diversity. Ecol Monogr 69:25–46CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  61. Sun GW, Coffin DP, Lauenroth WK (1997) Comparison of root distributions of species in North American grasslands using GIS. J Veg Sci 8:587–596CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  62. Thomsen MA, D’Antonio CM (2007) Mechanisms of resistance to invasion in a California grassland: the roles of competitor identity, resource availability, and environmental gradients. Oikos 116:17–30CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  63. Tilman D, Wedin D, Knops J (1996) Productivity and sustainability influenced by biodiversity in grassland ecosystems. Nature 379:718–720CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  64. Tilman D, Knops J, Wedin D, Reich P, Ritchie M, Siemann E (1997) The influence of functional diversity and composition on ecosystem processes. Science 277:1300–1302CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  65. Veresoglou DS, Fitter AH (1984) Spatial and temporal patterns of growth and nutrient-uptake of 5 co-existing grasses. J Ecol 72:259–272CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  66. Wardle DA (2001) Experimental demonstration that plant diversity reduces invasibility—evidence of a biological mechanism or a consequence of sampling effect? Oikos 95:161–170Google Scholar
  67. Weigelt A, Bol R, Bardgett RD (2005) Preferential uptake of soil nitrogen forms by grassland plant species. Oecologia 142:627–635PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  68. Wilcove DS, Rothstein D, Dubow J, Phillips A, Losos E (1998) Quantifying threats to imperiled species in the United States. Bioscience 48:607–615CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  69. Wright JP, Naeem S, Hector A, Lehman C, Reich PB, Schmid B, Tilman D (2006) Conventional functional classification schemes underestimate the relationship with ecosystem functioning. Ecol Lett 9:111–120PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  70. Zavaleta ES, Hulvey KB (2006) Realistic variation in species composition affects grassland production, resource use and invasion resistance. Plant Ecol 188:39–51CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2008

Authors and Affiliations

  • J. J. James
    • 1
    Email author
  • K. W. Davies
    • 1
  • R. L. Sheley
    • 1
  • Z. T. Aanderud
    • 1
    • 2
  1. 1.USDA-Agricultural Research Service, Eastern Oregon Agricultural Research CenterBurnsUSA
  2. 2.W. K. Kellogg Biological StationMichigan State UniversityHickory CornersUSA

Personalised recommendations