Plant diversity and functional groups affect Si and Ca pools in aboveground biomass of grassland systems
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Plant diversity is an important driver of nitrogen and phosphorus stocks in aboveground plant biomass of grassland ecosystems, but plant diversity effects on other elements also important for plant growth are less understood. We tested whether plant species richness, functional group richness or the presence/absence of particular plant functional groups influences the Si and Ca concentrations (mmol g−1) and stocks (mmol m−2) in aboveground plant biomass in a large grassland biodiversity experiment (Jena Experiment). In the experiment including 60 temperate grassland species, plant diversity was manipulated as sown species richness (1, 2, 4, 8, 16) and richness and identity of plant functional groups (1–4; grasses, small herbs, tall herbs, legumes). We found positive species richness effects on Si as well as Ca stocks that were attributable to increased biomass production. The presence of particular functional groups was the most important factor explaining variation in aboveground Si and Ca stocks (mmol m−2). Grass presence increased the Si stocks by 140 % and legume presence increased the Ca stock by 230 %. Both the presence of specific plant functional groups and species diversity altered Si and Ca stocks, whereas Si and Ca concentration were affected mostly by the presence of specific plant functional groups. However, we found a negative effect of species diversity on Si and Ca accumulation, by calculating the deviation between mixtures and mixture biomass proportions, but in monoculture concentrations. These changes may in turn affect ecosystem processes such as plant litter decomposition and nutrient cycling in grasslands.
KeywordsCalcium Grasses Jena Experiment Legumes Nutrient cycling Plant diversity Silicon
We thank the many people who helped with the management of the experiment, especially the gardeners and many student helpers. Thanks are also due to all the helpers during the weeding campaigns. The Jena Experiment is funded by the Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft (DFG, Wi 1601/4-1,-2, FOR 456/1451), with additional support from the Friedrich Schiller University of Jena and the Max Planck Society. The authors are grateful to Ms. G. Ciesielski and Mr. A. Weiske (both TU Dresden) for laboratory assistance and Si measurements.
Author contribution statement
J.S., C.R., H.H., A.W., Y.O., W. Wilcke, A.E., and W. Weisser designed the study and carried out the measurements. J.S. analyzed the data and wrote the first draft of the manuscript. All authors contributed to the writing of the manuscript.
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