University of Oulu

Eskelinen, A., E. Elwood, S. Harrison, E. Beyen, and J. R. Gremer. 2021. Vulnerability of grassland seed banks to resource-enhancing global changes. Ecology 102(12):e03512. 10.1002/ecy.3512

Vulnerability of grassland seed banks to resource-enhancing global changes

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Author: Eskelinen, Anu1,2,3; Elwood, Elise4; Harrison, Susan5;
Organizations: 1Department of Physiological Diversity, Helmholtz Centre for Environmental Research - UFZ, Permoserstrasse 15,Leipzig 04318 Germany
2German Centre for Integrative Biodiversity Research (iDiv) Halle-Jena-Leipzig, Puschstraße 4, Leipzig 04103 Germany
3Department of Ecology and Genetics, University of Oulu, P.O. Box 8000, Oulu FI-90014 Finland
4Department of Evolution and Ecology, University of California, Davis, California 95616 USA
5Department of Environmental Science and Policy, University of California, Davis, California 95616 USA
Format: article
Version: published version
Access: open
Online Access: PDF Full Text (PDF, 1.2 MB)
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Language: English
Published: John Wiley & Sons, 2021
Publish Date: 2022-01-20


Soil seed banks represent reservoirs of diversity in the soil that may increase resilience of communities to global changes. Two global change factors that can dramatically alter the composition and diversity of aboveground communities are nutrient enrichment and increased rainfall. In a full-factorial nutrient and rainfall addition experiment in an annual Californian grassland, we asked whether shifts in aboveground composition and diversity were reflected in belowground seed banks. Nutrient and rainfall additions increased exotic and decreased native abundances, while rainfall addition increased exotic richness, both in aboveground communities and seed banks. Under nutrient addition, forbs and short-statured plants were replaced by grasses and tall-statured species, both above and below ground, and whole-community responses to the treatments were similar. Structural equation models indicated that especially nutrient addition effects on seed banks were largely indirect via aboveground communities. However, rainfall addition also had a direct negative effect on native species richness and abundance of species with high specific leaf area (SLA) in seed banks, showing that seed banks are sensitive to the direct effects of temporary increases in rainfall. Our findings highlight the vulnerability of seed banks in annual, resource-poor grasslands to shifts in compositional and trait changes in aboveground communities and show how invasion of exotics and depletion of natives are critical for these above-belowground compositional shifts. Our findings suggest that seed banks have limited potential to buffer resource-poor annual grasslands from the community changes caused by resource enrichment.

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Series: Ecology
ISSN: 0012-9658
ISSN-E: 1939-9170
ISSN-L: 0012-9658
Volume: 102
Issue: 12
Article number: e03512
DOI: 10.1002/ecy.3512
Type of Publication: A1 Journal article – refereed
Field of Science: 1181 Ecology, evolutionary biology
Funding: This study was funded by Academy of Finland (projects 253385 and 297191) to A. Eskelinen and UC Davis to J. R. Gremer.
Academy of Finland Grant Number: 253385
Detailed Information: 253385 (Academy of Finland Funding decision)
297191 (Academy of Finland Funding decision)
Dataset Reference: Data and scripts (Eskelinen et al. 2021) are available in the Dryad Digital Repository:
Copyright information: © 2021 The Authors. Ecology published by Wiley Periodicals LLC on behalf of Ecological Society of America. This is an open access article under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs License, which permits use and distribution in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited, the use is non-commercial and no modifications or adaptations are made.