The role of nutrients for drought effects across land use gradients in grasslands

Carola Dostal1, Leonor Alvarez-Cansino1, Eunyoung Jung1, Bettina Engelbrecht1
1 Plant Ecology, University of Bayreuth

P 4.14 in BayCEERversity: Across scales, compartments & communities


The main global change drivers in terrestrial communities are land use and climate. A combination of fertilization and drought could exacerbate or dampen their effects, with pervasive consequences for community composition and productivity. However, our understanding of combined effects of fertilization and drought remains severely limited. The primary objective of this project is to improve our capability of projecting consequences of global change for grasslands. Thus, we will assess the role of soil nutrients for drought effects on grasslands community composition, diversity, and productivity across a land-use gradient.

Material and Methods

We will address this aim by a combination of approaches: 1) we will evaluate trait plasticity in response to nutrients in a greenhouse experiment ; 2) we will assess plant performance in response to the combined effects of nutrients and drought in a common garden experiment; and 3) to assess performance responses in the field we will analyse samples from precipitation manipulation experiments along a land-use gradient in the Biodiversity Exploratories (Rangeshift, 2009-2012, Bütof et al. 2012). To evaluate the synergistic effects of drought and fertilization on community composition across land-use gradients we will combine the results of our experiments with data from vegetation surveys in the Biodiversity Exploratories.


Bütof et al. (2012) The responses of grassland plants to experimentally simulated climate change depend on land use and region. Global Change Biology, 18, 127–137.

Keywords: Biodiversity Exploratories; Climate change; Common garden experiment; Greenhouse experiment; Grassland management;