University of Oulu

Eskelinen, A., Jessen, MT., Bahamonde, H.A. et al. Herbivory and nutrients shape grassland soil seed banks. Nat Commun 14, 3949 (2023).

Herbivory and nutrients shape grassland soil seed banks

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Author: Eskelinen, Anu1,2,3; Jessen, Maria-Theresa2,3,4; Bahamonde, Hector A.5;
Organizations: 1Ecology and Genetics Unit, University of Oulu, P.O. Box 3000, Oulu, Finland
2Department of Physiological Diversity, Helmholtz Centre for Environmental Research - UFZ, Puschstraße 4, 04103, Leipzig, Germany
3German Centre for Integrative Biodiversity Research (iDiv), Puschstraße 4, 04103, Leipzig, Germany
4Department of Community Ecology, Helmholtz Centre for Environmental Research – UFZ, Halle, Theodor-Lieser-Str. 4, 06120, Halle, Germany
5Faculty of Agricultural and Forestry Sciences, National University of La Plata, Av. 60 y 119, La Plata, 1900, Buenos Aires, Argentina
6School of Environmental and Forest Sciences, University of Washington, Box 354115, Seattle, WA, 98195-4115, USA
7University of Minnesota, Department of Ecology, Evolution and Behavior, 140 Gortner Laboratory, 1479 Gortner Ave, St Paul, MN, 55108, USA
8Forest Research Centre, Associate Laboratory TERRA, School of Agriculture, University of Lisbon, Tapada da Ajuda, 1349−017, Lisbon, Portugal
9Martin Luther University Halle-Wittenberg, am Kirchtor 1, 06108, Halle (Saale), Germany
10School of Water Resources & Environmental Engineering, East China University of Technology, Nanchang, 330013, China
11College of Life Sciences, Beijing Normal University, No. 19 Xinjiekou Wai Street, Beijing City, 100875, China
12Department of Biology and Animal Sciences, São Paulo State University-UNESP, Ilha Solteira, 01049-010, Brazil
13Department of Biology, Vrije Universiteit Brussel (VUB), Pleinlaan 2, 1050, Brussels, Belgium
14National Institute of Agricultural Research (INTA), Southern Patagonia National University (UNPA), CONICET, Río Gallegos, (CP 9400), Santa Cruz, Argentina
15Odum School of Ecology, University of Georgia, Athens, GA, 30603, USA
16IFEVA, University of Buenos Aires, CONICET, Facultad de Agronomía, Av. San Martin, 4453 C1417DSE, Buenos Aires, Argentina
17Swiss Federal Institute for Forest, Snow and Landscape Research WSL, Zuercherstrasse 111, 8903, Birmensdorf, Switzerland
18Queensland University of Technology, School of Biological and Environmental Sciences, Brisbane, QLD 4072, Australia
19Division of Biological Sciences, University of Missouri, Columbia, MO, 65211, USA
20Department of Plant Biology, Michigan State University, East Lansing, MI, 48824, USA
21W. K. Kellogg Biological Station, Michigan State University, Hickory Corners, MI, 49060, USA
22Ecology, Evolution and Behavior Program, Michigan State University, East Lansing, MI, 48824, USA
Format: article
Version: published version
Access: open
Online Access: PDF Full Text (PDF, 1.8 MB)
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Language: English
Published: Springer Nature, 2023
Publish Date: 2023-09-12


Anthropogenic nutrient enrichment and shifts in herbivory can lead to dramatic changes in the composition and diversity of aboveground plant communities. In turn, this can alter seed banks in the soil, which are cryptic reservoirs of plant diversity. Here, we use data from seven Nutrient Network grassland sites on four continents, encompassing a range of climatic and environmental conditions, to test the joint effects of fertilization and aboveground mammalian herbivory on seed banks and on the similarity between aboveground plant communities and seed banks. We find that fertilization decreases plant species richness and diversity in seed banks, and homogenizes composition between aboveground and seed bank communities. Fertilization increases seed bank abundance especially in the presence of herbivores, while this effect is smaller in the absence of herbivores. Our findings highlight that nutrient enrichment can weaken a diversity maintaining mechanism in grasslands, and that herbivory needs to be considered when assessing nutrient enrichment effects on seed bank abundance.

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Series: Nature communications
ISSN: 2041-1723
ISSN-E: 2041-1723
ISSN-L: 2041-1723
Volume: 14
Issue: 1
Article number: 3949
DOI: 10.1038/s41467-023-39677-x
Type of Publication: A1 Journal article – refereed
Field of Science: 1181 Ecology, evolutionary biology
Funding: Coordination of the seed bank study was funded by Academy of Finland (project 297191) to A.E. The seed bank study was conducted within the Nutrient Network ( experiment, funded at the site-scale by individual researchers. Coordination and data management of aboveground vegetation data from the individual participating sites have been supported by funding to E.T.B. and E.W.S from the National Science Foundation Research Coordination Network (NSF-DEB-1042132) and Long Term Ecological Research (NSF-DEB-1234162 and NSF-DEB-1831944 to Cedar Creek LTER) programs, and the Institute on the Environment (DG-0001-13). Individual sites were supported by PICT-2014-1109 // UBACyT-20020170100191BA // UBACyT-20020190100212BA and visiting researcher fellowship from the Swiss Federal Research Institute WSL to P.M.T., National Natural Science Foundation of China (31170494) and East China University of Technology Research Foundation for Career special project (DHBK2019103) to M.J, and Flexpool grant no. 34600565-11 to M.-T.J. Forest Research Centre is a research unit funded by FCT.
Academy of Finland Grant Number: 297191
Detailed Information: 297191 (Academy of Finland Funding decision)
Copyright information: © The Author(s) 2023. This article is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License, which permits use, sharing, adaptation, distribution and reproduction in any medium or format, as long as you give appropriate credit to the original author(s) and the source, provide a link to the Creative Commons licence, and indicate if changes were made. The images or other third party material in this article are included in the article’s Creative Commons licence, unless indicated otherwise in a credit line to the material. If material is not included in the article’s Creative Commons licence and your intended use is not permitted by statutory regulation or exceeds the permitted use, you will need to obtain permission directly from the copyright holder. To view a copy of this licence, visit