University of Oulu

Risch, AC, Zimmermann, S, Moser, B, et al. Global impacts of fertilization and herbivore removal on soil net nitrogen mineralization are modulated by local climate and soil properties. Glob Change Biol. 2020; 26: 7173– 7185.

Global impacts of fertilization and herbivore removal on soil net nitrogen mineralization are modulated by local climate and soil properties

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Author: Risch, Anita C.1; Zimmermann, Stefan1; Moser, Barbara1;
Organizations: 1Swiss Fed Inst Forest Snow & Landscape Res, Zuercherstr 111, CH-8903 Birmensdorf, Switzerland.
2Queensland Univ Technol QUT, Sch Earth Environm & Biol Sci, Fac Sci & Engn, Brisbane, Qld, Australia.
3USDA ARS, Grassland Soil & Water Res Lab, Temple, TX 76502 USA.
4Utah State Univ, Dept Wildland Resources, Logan, UT 84322 USA.
5Utah State Univ, Ecol Ctr, Logan, UT 84322 USA.
6Iowa State Univ, Dept Ecol Evolut & Organismal Biol, Ames, IA USA.
7Kansas State Univ, Div Biol, Ackert Hall, Manhattan, KS 66506 USA.
8Univ Minnesota, Dept Ecol Evolut & Behav, St Paul, MN 55108 USA.
9Univ Manchester, Dept Earth & Environm Sci, Manchester, Lancs, England.
10Colorado State Univ, Grad Degree Program Ecol, Dept Agr Biol, Ft Collins, CO 80523 USA.
11Univ Toronto Scarborough, Dept Biol Sci, Toronto, ON, Canada.
12Univ Lisbon, Inst Super Agron, Ctr Estudos Florestais, Lisbon, Portugal.
13Univ Colorado, Dept Ecol & Evolutionary Biol, Boulder, CO 80309 USA.
14UNCOMA, CONICET, INIBIOMA, Grp Invest Biol Conservac, San Carlos De Bariloche, Rio Negro, Argentina.
15German Ctr Integrat Biodivers Res iDiv, Leipzig, Germany.
16Univ Leipzig, Inst Biol, Leipzig, Germany.
17Helmholtz Ctr Environm Res, UFZ, Leipzig, Germany.
18Univ Oulu, Dept Ecol & Genet, Oulu, Finland.
19Xian Jiaotong Liverpool Univ, Dept Hlth & Environm Sci, Suzhou, Peoples R China.
20Univ Guelph, Dept Integrat Biol, Guelph, ON, Canada.
21Univ Kentucky, Dept Plant & Soil Sci, Lexington, KY USA.
22Monash Univ, Sch Biol Sci, Clayton Campus, Clayton, Vic, Australia.
23Western Sydney Univ, Hawkesbury Inst Environm, Penrith, NSW, Australia.
24CSIRO Land & Water, Wembley, WA, Australia.
25Univ Florida, Range Cattle Res & Educ Ctr, Ona, FL USA.
26Univ Lancaster, Lancaster Environm Ctr, Lancaster, England.
27Univ Buenos Aires, CONICET, IFEVA, Fac Agron, Buenos Aires, DF, Argentina.
28Univ Cadiz, Dept Biol, Puerto Real, Spain.
Format: article
Version: accepted version
Access: open
Online Access: PDF Full Text (PDF, 2.1 MB)
Persistent link:
Language: English
Published: John Wiley & Sons, 2020
Publish Date: 2021-08-12


Soil nitrogen (N) availability is critical for grassland functioning. However, human activities have increased the supply of biologically limiting nutrients, and changed the density and identity of mammalian herbivores. These anthropogenic changes may alter net soil N mineralization (soil net Nmin), that is, the net balance between N mineralization and immobilization, which could severely impact grassland structure and functioning. Yet, to date, little is known about how fertilization and herbivore removal individually, or jointly, affect soil net Nmin across a wide range of grasslands that vary in soil and climatic properties. Here we collected data from 22 grasslands on five continents, all part of a globally replicated experiment, to assess how fertilization and herbivore removal affected potential (laboratory‐based) and realized (field‐based) soil net Nmin. Herbivore removal in the absence of fertilization did not alter potential and realized soil net Nmin. However, fertilization alone and in combination with herbivore removal consistently increased potential soil net Nmin. Realized soil net Nmin, in contrast, significantly decreased in fertilized plots where herbivores were removed. Treatment effects on potential and realized soil net Nmin were contingent on site‐specific soil and climatic properties. Fertilization effects on potential soil net Nmin were larger at sites with higher mean annual precipitation (MAP) and temperature of the wettest quarter (T.q.wet). Reciprocally, realized soil net Nmin declined most strongly with fertilization and herbivore removal at sites with lower MAP and higher T.q.wet. In summary, our findings show that anthropogenic nutrient enrichment, herbivore exclusion and alterations in future climatic conditions can negatively impact soil net Nmin across global grasslands under realistic field conditions. This is an important context‐dependent knowledge for grassland management worldwide.

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Series: Global change biology
ISSN: 1354-1013
ISSN-E: 1365-2486
ISSN-L: 1354-1013
Volume: 26
Issue: 12
Pages: 7173 - 7185
DOI: 10.1111/gcb.15308
Type of Publication: A1 Journal article – refereed
Field of Science: 1181 Ecology, evolutionary biology
Funding: This work was conducted within the Nutrient Network ( experiment, funded at the site‐scale by individual researchers. The soil net Nmin study was funded by an internal competitive WSL grant to A.C.R., B.M., M.S., S.Z., and F.H. Coordination and data management have been supported by funding from the National Science Foundation Research Coordination Network (NSF‐DEB‐1042132) to E.T.B. and E.W.S., and from the Long‐Term Ecological Research (LTER) program (NSF‐DEB‐1234162 to the Institute on the Environment as other LTER sites), and the Institute on the Environment at the University of Minnesota (DG‐0001‐13). We also thank the Minnesota Supercomputer Institute for hosting project data, and the Institute on the Environment for hosting Network meetings. We are grateful to Roger Köchli and Simon Baumgartner for their help with sample processing and analyses. N.E. and J.S. acknowledge support by the German Centre for Integrative Biodiversity Research Halle–Jena–Leipzig, funded by the German Research Foundation (FZT 118). S.M.P. thanks Georg Wiehl for field assistance and Denise and Malcolm French for access to their property at Mt. Caroline. The Mt. Caroline site was supported through the TERN Great Western Woodlands Supersite. M.C.C. thanks the CEF (UIDB/00239/2020, Fundação para a Ciência e Tecnologia I.P., Portugal) for support. P.A.F. was supported by in‐house funding from USDA‐ARS. USDA is an Equal Opportunity Employer.
Dataset Reference: Data is available on the online portal,
Copyright information: © 2020 John Wiley & Sons Ltd. "This is the peer reviewed version of the following article: Risch, AC, Zimmermann, S, Moser, B, et al. Global impacts of fertilization and herbivore removal on soil net nitrogen mineralization are modulated by local climate and soil properties. Glob Change Biol. 2020; 26: 7173– 7185, which has been published in final form at This article may be used for non-commercial purposes in accordance with Wiley Terms and Conditions for Self-Archiving.