Water availability modifies productivity response to biodiversity and nitrogen in long-term grassland experiments


Diversity and nitrogen addition have positive relationships with plant productivity, yet climate-induced changes in water availability threaten to upend these established relationships. Using long-term data from three experiments in a mesic grassland (ranging from 17 to 34 yr of data), we tested how the effects of species richness and nitrogen addition on community-level plant productivity changed as a function of annual fluctuations in water availability using growing season precipitation and the Standardized Precipitation-Evapotranspiration Index (SPEI). While results varied across experiments, our findings demonstrate that water availability can magnify the positive effects of both biodiversity and nitrogen addition on productivity. These results suggest that productivity responses to anthropogenic species diversity loss and increasing nitrogen deposition could depend on precipitation regimes, highlighting the importance of testing interactions between multiple global change drivers.

Ecological Applications, e02363
Amy E. Kendig
Amy E. Kendig
Postdoctoral Researcher

ecologist and data scientist specializing in human impacts in plant communities