The scheme of nutrient addition affects vegetation composition and plant species richness in different ways: Results from a long-term grasslands experiment

Jan Zarzycki , Michał Kopeć


The deposition of pollutants and agricultural fertilizers substantially increases nutrient supply to the environment. Nutrient addition may shift the nutrient limitation type of plants, e.g. from nitrogen (N)-limited to phosphorus (P)-limited. As the nutrient supply is expected to continue to grow, it is important to understand the patterns of nutrient limitation and their effects on species composition. The aim of this study was therefore to evaluate the long-term (39 years, 1968-2007) effects of varied fertilization schemes, i.e. N, P, PK, PK + 90 kg ha−1 N, and PK + 180 kg ha−1 N, on the species composition of a seminatural mountain grassland. In the first period of the experiment (13 years), NPK fertilization resulted in high yield and a considerably impoverished species composition, dominated by a single grass species (Holcus mollis). Plots fertilized with a single nutrient (N or P) developed a similar species composition to that of the control grassland (no fertilization) dominated by species typical of low-fertility habitats of the Nardo-Callunetea class. In the 1980s, the plots fertilized with NPK exhibited a considerable reduction in yield. Therefore, in the years 1993 and 1994 mowing was replaced by sheep grazing, and supplementary fertilization with micronutrients was applied. In 2007 the yield in the treatment fertilized with PK + 180 kg ha−1 N was not restored, but the number of species increased. The species composition in the PK treatment became more similar to that of the plots treated with NPK. In contrast, changes in grasslands fertilized with single nutrients (N or P) were insignificant. To conclude, the factor that most strongly affected species composition was the increase in productivity caused by the addition of basic macronutrients. The addition of N or P alone does not significantly affect species composition if other elements limit the productivity of the grassland.
Author Jan Zarzycki (FoEEaLS / DoECaAP)
Jan Zarzycki,,
- Department of Ecology, Climatology and Air Protection
, Michał Kopeć (FoAaE / DoAaECh)
Michał Kopeć,,
- Department of Agricultural and Environmental Chemistry
Journal seriesAgriculture Ecosystems & Environment, [Agriculture, Ecosystems and Environment], ISSN 0167-8809, e-ISSN 1873-2305, (N/A 200 pkt)
Issue year2020
Publication size in sheets0.5
Article number106789
Keywords in EnglishLong-Term experiment, Nitrogen limitation, Phosphorus limitation, Seminatural grassland, Species richness, Plant species composition
ASJC Classification1102 Agronomy and Crop Science; 1103 Animal Science and Zoology; 2303 Ecology
Languageen angielski
Score (nominal)200
Score sourcejournalList
Publication indicators WoS Citations = 0; Scopus SNIP (Source Normalised Impact per Paper): 2018 = 1.643; WoS Impact Factor: 2018 = 3.954 (2) - 2018=4.655 (5)
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FinansowanieThe research was financed by the Polish Ministry of Science and Higher Education.
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