Leaf nutrients, not specific leaf area, are consistent indicators of elevated nutrient inputs

Jennifer Firn, James M. McGree, Eric Harvey, Habacuc Flores-Moreno, Martin Schütz, Yvonne M. Buckley, Elizabeth T. Borer, Eric W. Seabloom, Kimberly J. La Pierre, Andrew M. MacDougall, Suzanne M. Prober, Carly J. Stevens, Lauren L. Sullivan, Erica Porter, Emma Ladouceur, Charlotte Allen, Karine H. Moromizato, John W. Morgan, W. Stanley Harpole, Yann Hautier & 23 others Nico Eisenhauer, Justin P. Wright, Peter B. Adler, Carlos Alberto Arnillas, Jonathan D. Bakker, Lori Biederman, Arthur A.D. Broadbent, Cynthia S. Brown, Miguel N. Bugalho, Maria C. Caldeira, Elsa E. Cleland, Anne Ebeling, Philip A. Fay, Nicole Hagenah, Andrew R. Kleinhesselink, Rachel Mitchell, Joslin L. Moore, Carla Nogueira, Pablo Luis Peri, Christiane Roscher, Melinda D. Smith, Peter D. Wragg, Anita C. Risch

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

Abstract

Leaf traits are frequently measured in ecology to provide a ‘common currency’ for predicting how anthropogenic pressures impact ecosystem function. Here, we test whether leaf traits consistently respond to experimental treatments across 27 globally distributed grassland sites across 4 continents. We find that specific leaf area (leaf area per unit mass)—a commonly measured morphological trait inferring shifts between plant growth strategies—did not respond to up to four years of soil nutrient additions. Leaf nitrogen, phosphorus and potassium concentrations increased in response to the addition of each respective soil nutrient. We found few significant changes in leaf traits when vertebrate herbivores were excluded in the short-term. Leaf nitrogen and potassium concentrations were positively correlated with species turnover, suggesting that interspecific trait variation was a significant predictor of leaf nitrogen and potassium, but not of leaf phosphorus concentration. Climatic conditions and pretreatment soil nutrient levels also accounted for significant amounts of variation in the leaf traits measured. Overall, we find that leaf morphological traits, such as specific leaf area, are not appropriate indicators of plant response to anthropogenic perturbations in grasslands.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)400-406
Number of pages10
JournalNature Ecology and Evolution
Volume3
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 4 Feb 2019

Cite this

Firn, J., McGree, J. M., Harvey, E., Flores-Moreno, H., Schütz, M., Buckley, Y. M., ... Risch, A. C. (2019). Leaf nutrients, not specific leaf area, are consistent indicators of elevated nutrient inputs. Nature Ecology and Evolution, 3, 400-406. https://doi.org/10.1038/s41559-018-0790-1
Firn, Jennifer ; McGree, James M. ; Harvey, Eric ; Flores-Moreno, Habacuc ; Schütz, Martin ; Buckley, Yvonne M. ; Borer, Elizabeth T. ; Seabloom, Eric W. ; La Pierre, Kimberly J. ; MacDougall, Andrew M. ; Prober, Suzanne M. ; Stevens, Carly J. ; Sullivan, Lauren L. ; Porter, Erica ; Ladouceur, Emma ; Allen, Charlotte ; Moromizato, Karine H. ; Morgan, John W. ; Harpole, W. Stanley ; Hautier, Yann ; Eisenhauer, Nico ; Wright, Justin P. ; Adler, Peter B. ; Arnillas, Carlos Alberto ; Bakker, Jonathan D. ; Biederman, Lori ; Broadbent, Arthur A.D. ; Brown, Cynthia S. ; Bugalho, Miguel N. ; Caldeira, Maria C. ; Cleland, Elsa E. ; Ebeling, Anne ; Fay, Philip A. ; Hagenah, Nicole ; Kleinhesselink, Andrew R. ; Mitchell, Rachel ; Moore, Joslin L. ; Nogueira, Carla ; Peri, Pablo Luis ; Roscher, Christiane ; Smith, Melinda D. ; Wragg, Peter D. ; Risch, Anita C. / Leaf nutrients, not specific leaf area, are consistent indicators of elevated nutrient inputs. In: Nature Ecology and Evolution. 2019 ; Vol. 3. pp. 400-406.
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abstract = "Leaf traits are frequently measured in ecology to provide a ‘common currency’ for predicting how anthropogenic pressures impact ecosystem function. Here, we test whether leaf traits consistently respond to experimental treatments across 27 globally distributed grassland sites across 4 continents. We find that specific leaf area (leaf area per unit mass)—a commonly measured morphological trait inferring shifts between plant growth strategies—did not respond to up to four years of soil nutrient additions. Leaf nitrogen, phosphorus and potassium concentrations increased in response to the addition of each respective soil nutrient. We found few significant changes in leaf traits when vertebrate herbivores were excluded in the short-term. Leaf nitrogen and potassium concentrations were positively correlated with species turnover, suggesting that interspecific trait variation was a significant predictor of leaf nitrogen and potassium, but not of leaf phosphorus concentration. Climatic conditions and pretreatment soil nutrient levels also accounted for significant amounts of variation in the leaf traits measured. Overall, we find that leaf morphological traits, such as specific leaf area, are not appropriate indicators of plant response to anthropogenic perturbations in grasslands.",
author = "Jennifer Firn and McGree, {James M.} and Eric Harvey and Habacuc Flores-Moreno and Martin Sch{\"u}tz and Buckley, {Yvonne M.} and Borer, {Elizabeth T.} and Seabloom, {Eric W.} and {La Pierre}, {Kimberly J.} and MacDougall, {Andrew M.} and Prober, {Suzanne M.} and Stevens, {Carly J.} and Sullivan, {Lauren L.} and Erica Porter and Emma Ladouceur and Charlotte Allen and Moromizato, {Karine H.} and Morgan, {John W.} and Harpole, {W. Stanley} and Yann Hautier and Nico Eisenhauer and Wright, {Justin P.} and Adler, {Peter B.} and Arnillas, {Carlos Alberto} and Bakker, {Jonathan D.} and Lori Biederman and Broadbent, {Arthur A.D.} and Brown, {Cynthia S.} and Bugalho, {Miguel N.} and Caldeira, {Maria C.} and Cleland, {Elsa E.} and Anne Ebeling and Fay, {Philip A.} and Nicole Hagenah and Kleinhesselink, {Andrew R.} and Rachel Mitchell and Moore, {Joslin L.} and Carla Nogueira and Peri, {Pablo Luis} and Christiane Roscher and Smith, {Melinda D.} and Wragg, {Peter D.} and Risch, {Anita C.}",
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Firn, J, McGree, JM, Harvey, E, Flores-Moreno, H, Schütz, M, Buckley, YM, Borer, ET, Seabloom, EW, La Pierre, KJ, MacDougall, AM, Prober, SM, Stevens, CJ, Sullivan, LL, Porter, E, Ladouceur, E, Allen, C, Moromizato, KH, Morgan, JW, Harpole, WS, Hautier, Y, Eisenhauer, N, Wright, JP, Adler, PB, Arnillas, CA, Bakker, JD, Biederman, L, Broadbent, AAD, Brown, CS, Bugalho, MN, Caldeira, MC, Cleland, EE, Ebeling, A, Fay, PA, Hagenah, N, Kleinhesselink, AR, Mitchell, R, Moore, JL, Nogueira, C, Peri, PL, Roscher, C, Smith, MD, Wragg, PD & Risch, AC 2019, 'Leaf nutrients, not specific leaf area, are consistent indicators of elevated nutrient inputs', Nature Ecology and Evolution, vol. 3, pp. 400-406. https://doi.org/10.1038/s41559-018-0790-1

Leaf nutrients, not specific leaf area, are consistent indicators of elevated nutrient inputs. / Firn, Jennifer; McGree, James M.; Harvey, Eric; Flores-Moreno, Habacuc; Schütz, Martin; Buckley, Yvonne M.; Borer, Elizabeth T.; Seabloom, Eric W.; La Pierre, Kimberly J.; MacDougall, Andrew M.; Prober, Suzanne M.; Stevens, Carly J.; Sullivan, Lauren L.; Porter, Erica; Ladouceur, Emma; Allen, Charlotte; Moromizato, Karine H.; Morgan, John W.; Harpole, W. Stanley; Hautier, Yann; Eisenhauer, Nico; Wright, Justin P.; Adler, Peter B.; Arnillas, Carlos Alberto; Bakker, Jonathan D.; Biederman, Lori; Broadbent, Arthur A.D.; Brown, Cynthia S.; Bugalho, Miguel N.; Caldeira, Maria C.; Cleland, Elsa E.; Ebeling, Anne; Fay, Philip A.; Hagenah, Nicole; Kleinhesselink, Andrew R.; Mitchell, Rachel; Moore, Joslin L.; Nogueira, Carla; Peri, Pablo Luis; Roscher, Christiane; Smith, Melinda D.; Wragg, Peter D.; Risch, Anita C.

In: Nature Ecology and Evolution, Vol. 3, 04.02.2019, p. 400-406.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

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T1 - Leaf nutrients, not specific leaf area, are consistent indicators of elevated nutrient inputs

AU - Firn, Jennifer

AU - McGree, James M.

AU - Harvey, Eric

AU - Flores-Moreno, Habacuc

AU - Schütz, Martin

AU - Buckley, Yvonne M.

AU - Borer, Elizabeth T.

AU - Seabloom, Eric W.

AU - La Pierre, Kimberly J.

AU - MacDougall, Andrew M.

AU - Prober, Suzanne M.

AU - Stevens, Carly J.

AU - Sullivan, Lauren L.

AU - Porter, Erica

AU - Ladouceur, Emma

AU - Allen, Charlotte

AU - Moromizato, Karine H.

AU - Morgan, John W.

AU - Harpole, W. Stanley

AU - Hautier, Yann

AU - Eisenhauer, Nico

AU - Wright, Justin P.

AU - Adler, Peter B.

AU - Arnillas, Carlos Alberto

AU - Bakker, Jonathan D.

AU - Biederman, Lori

AU - Broadbent, Arthur A.D.

AU - Brown, Cynthia S.

AU - Bugalho, Miguel N.

AU - Caldeira, Maria C.

AU - Cleland, Elsa E.

AU - Ebeling, Anne

AU - Fay, Philip A.

AU - Hagenah, Nicole

AU - Kleinhesselink, Andrew R.

AU - Mitchell, Rachel

AU - Moore, Joslin L.

AU - Nogueira, Carla

AU - Peri, Pablo Luis

AU - Roscher, Christiane

AU - Smith, Melinda D.

AU - Wragg, Peter D.

AU - Risch, Anita C.

PY - 2019/2/4

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AB - Leaf traits are frequently measured in ecology to provide a ‘common currency’ for predicting how anthropogenic pressures impact ecosystem function. Here, we test whether leaf traits consistently respond to experimental treatments across 27 globally distributed grassland sites across 4 continents. We find that specific leaf area (leaf area per unit mass)—a commonly measured morphological trait inferring shifts between plant growth strategies—did not respond to up to four years of soil nutrient additions. Leaf nitrogen, phosphorus and potassium concentrations increased in response to the addition of each respective soil nutrient. We found few significant changes in leaf traits when vertebrate herbivores were excluded in the short-term. Leaf nitrogen and potassium concentrations were positively correlated with species turnover, suggesting that interspecific trait variation was a significant predictor of leaf nitrogen and potassium, but not of leaf phosphorus concentration. Climatic conditions and pretreatment soil nutrient levels also accounted for significant amounts of variation in the leaf traits measured. Overall, we find that leaf morphological traits, such as specific leaf area, are not appropriate indicators of plant response to anthropogenic perturbations in grasslands.

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