Acquisition, Use, and Loss of Nutrients

Authored by: Frank Berendse , Hans de Kroon , Wim G. Braakhekke

Functiona Plant Ecology

Print publication date:  June  2007
Online publication date:  June  2007

Print ISBN: 9780849374883
eBook ISBN: 9781420007626
Adobe ISBN:


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In many natural environments, nutrient supply is one of the most important factors that affect the productivity and the species composition of plant communities (Kruijne et al. 1967, Elberse et al. 1983, Pastor et al. 1984, Tilman 1984). In many grassland, heathland, wetland and forest communities increased fertilizer gifts and increased nitrogen inputs through atmospheric deposition have caused not only dramatic changes in species composition, but also important losses of plant species diversity (Aerts and Berendse 1988, Berendse et al. 1992). To understand the changes in plant communities that occur after an increase in nutrient supply, it is essential to understand how plant species are adapted to environments with different nutrient availabilities. The relation between nutrient supply and long-term success of a plant individual in a natural ecosystem is determined by three important components of plant functioning:

the acquisition of nutrients in soils that are always more or less heterogeneous;

the use of absorbed nutrients for carbon assimilation and other plant functions;

the loss of nutrients determining the length of the time period that nutrients can be used.

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