Plant species' origin predicts dominance and response to nutrient enrichment and herbivores in global grasslands

Eric W Seabloom, Elizabeth T Borer, Yvonne M Buckley, Elsa E Cleland, Kendi F Davies, Jennifer Firn, W Stanley Harpole, Yann Hautier, Eric M Lind, Andrew S MacDougall, John L Orrock, Suzanne M Prober, Peter Adler, Todd Michael Anderson, Jonathan D Bakker, Lori A Biederman, Dana M Blumenthal, Cynthia S Brown, Lars A Brudvig, Marc CadotteChengjin Chu, Kathryn L Cottingham, Michael J Crawley, Ellen I Damschen, Carla M Dantonio, Nicole M DeCrappeo, Guozhen Du, Philip A Fay, Paul Frater, Daniel S Gruner, Nicole Hagenah, Andrew Hector, Helmut Hillebrand, Kirsten S Hofmockel, Hope C Humphries, Virginia L Jin, Adam D Kay, Kevin P Kirkman, Julia A Klein, Johannes M H Knops, Kimberly J La Pierre, Laura Marie Ladwig, John G Lambrinos, Qi Li, Wei Li, Robin Gene Marushia, Rebecca Mcculley, Brett A Melbourne, Charles E Mitchell, Joslin Moore, John W Morgan, Brent Mortensen, Lydia R O'Halloran, David A Pyke, Anita Christina Risch, Mahesh Sankaran, Martin Schuetz, Anna Simonsen, Melinda D Smith, Carly J Stevens, Lauren Sullivan, Elizabeth M Wolkovich, Peter D Wragg, Justin Wright, Louie H Yang

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123 Citations (Scopus)


Exotic species dominate many communities; however the functional significance of species biogeographic origin remains highly contentious. This debate is fuelled in part by the lack of globally replicated, systematic data assessing the relationship between species provenance, function and response to perturbations. We examined the abundance of native and exotic plant species at 64 grasslands in 13 countries, and at a subset of the sites we experimentally tested native and exotic species responses to two fundamental drivers of invasion, mineral nutrient supplies and vertebrate herbivory. Exotic species are six times more likely to dominate communities than native species. Furthermore, while experimental nutrient addition increases the cover and richness of exotic species, nutrients decrease native diversity and cover. Native and exotic species also differ in their response to vertebrate consumer exclusion. These results suggest that species origin has functional significance, and that eutrophication will lead to increased exotic dominance in grasslands.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-8
Number of pages8
JournalNature Communications
Publication statusPublished - 2015

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