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Fertilization affects the establishment ability of species differing in seed mass via direct nutrient addition and indirect competition effects

  • Fertilization causes species loss and species dominance changes in plant communities worldwide. However, it still remains unclear how fertilization acts upon species functional traits, e.g. seed mass. Seed mass is a key trait of the regeneration strategy of plants, which influences a range of processes during the seedling establishment phase. Fertilization may select upon seed mass, either directly by increased nutrient availability or indirectly by increased competition. Since previous research has mainly analyzed the indirect effects of fertilization, we disentangled the direct and indirect effects to examine how nutrient availability and competition influence the seed mass relationships on four key components during seedling establishment: seedling emergence, time of seedling emergence, seedling survival and seedling growth. We conducted a common garden experiment with 22 dry grassland species with a two-way full factorial design that simulated additional nutrient supply and increased competition. While we found no evidence thatFertilization causes species loss and species dominance changes in plant communities worldwide. However, it still remains unclear how fertilization acts upon species functional traits, e.g. seed mass. Seed mass is a key trait of the regeneration strategy of plants, which influences a range of processes during the seedling establishment phase. Fertilization may select upon seed mass, either directly by increased nutrient availability or indirectly by increased competition. Since previous research has mainly analyzed the indirect effects of fertilization, we disentangled the direct and indirect effects to examine how nutrient availability and competition influence the seed mass relationships on four key components during seedling establishment: seedling emergence, time of seedling emergence, seedling survival and seedling growth. We conducted a common garden experiment with 22 dry grassland species with a two-way full factorial design that simulated additional nutrient supply and increased competition. While we found no evidence that fertilization either directly by additional nutrient supply or indirectly by increased competition alters the relationship between seed mass and (time of) seedling emergence, we revealed that large seed mass is beneficial under nutrient-poor conditions (seedlings have greater chances of survival, particularly in nutrient-poor soils) as well as under competition (large-seeded species produced larger seedlings, which suffered less from competition than small-seeded species). Based on these findings, we argue that both factors, i.e. nutrient availability and competition intensity, ought to be considered to understand how fertilization influences seedling establishment and species composition with respect to seed mass in natural communities. We propose a simple conceptual model, in which seed mass in natural communities is determined by competition intensity and nutrient availability. Here, we hypothesize that seed mass shows a U-shaped pattern along gradients of soil fertility, which may explain the contrasting soil fertility-seed mass relationships found in the recent literature.show moreshow less

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Metadaten
Author:Kolja Bergholz, Florian JeltschORCiDGND, Lina Weiß, Janine Pottek, Katja Geißler, Michael Ristow
DOI:https://doi.org/10.1111/oik.02193
ISSN:0030-1299 (print)
ISSN:1600-0706 (online)
Parent Title (English):Oikos
Publisher:Wiley-Blackwell
Place of publication:Hoboken
Document Type:Article
Language:English
Year of first Publication:2015
Year of Completion:2015
Release Date:2017/03/27
Volume:124
Issue:11
Pagenumber:8
First Page:1547
Last Page:1554
Organizational units:Mathematisch-Naturwissenschaftliche Fakultät / Institut für Biochemie und Biologie
Peer Review:Referiert