Fertilising semi-natural grasslands may cause long-term negative effects on both biodiversity and ecosystem stability.

Published online
20 Feb 2019
Content type
Journal article
Journal title
Journal of Applied Ecology

Melts, I. & Lanno, K. & Sammul, M. & Uchida, K. & Heinsoo, K. & Kull, T. & Laanisto, L.
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Some short-term experiments in applied ecology and agricultural research have demonstrated that nutrient applications in semi-natural grasslands can maintain productivity and will not result in the decrease of plant species richness. Such findings may have an impact on management choices and quality of valuable plant communities, and therefore, further discussion of this topic is necessary. We highlight three aspects regarding the management suggestions in grassland communities with high biodiversity: (1) short-term study results may not reflect potential long-term changes; (2) broad range of grasslands may respond to disturbance in site specific ways; and (3) practical advices should contain careful consideration of existing ecological literature regarding grassland management and sustainable biodiversity. Synthesis and applications. Considering effects of fertilisation on biodiversity, we argue against nutrient application to semi-natural grasslands. Biodiversity supports the resilience of grassland ecosystems and maintains a stable biomass yield. Current short-term experiments are good indicators about the need for a long-term experiments and meta-analysis for detailed understanding of ecosystem functions in different types and areas during global change.

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