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Aboveground vertebrate and invertebrate herbivore impacts on net N mineralization in subalpine grasslands

Posted date: August 18, 2016
Publication Year: 
Authors: Risch, Anita C.; Schutz, Martin; Vandegehuchte, Martijn L.; van der Putten, Wim H.; Duyts, Henk; Raschein, Ursina; Gwiazdowicz, Dariusz J.; Busse, Matt D.; Page-Dumroese, Deborah S.; Zimmerman, Stephan
Publication Series: 
Scientific Journal (JRNL)
Source: Ecology. 96(12): 3312-3322.


Aboveground herbivores have strong effects on grassland nitrogen (N) cycling. They can accelerate or slow down soil net N mineralization depending on ecosystem productivity and grazing intensity. Yet, most studies only consider either ungulates or invertebrate herbivores, but not the combined effect of several functionally different vertebrate and invertebrate herbivore species or guilds. We assessed how a diverse herbivore community affects net N mineralization in subalpine grasslands. By using size-selective fences, we progressively excluded large, medium, and small mammals, as well as invertebrates from two vegetation types, and assessed how the exclosure types (ET) affected net N mineralization. The two vegetation types differed in long-term management (centuries), forage quality, and grazing history and intensity. To gain a more mechanistic understanding of how herbivores affect net N mineralization, we linked mineralization to soil abiotic (temperature; moisture; NO3-, NH4+, and total inorganic N concentrations/pools; C, N, P concentrations; pH; bulk density), soil biotic (microbial biomass; abundance of collembolans, mites, and nematodes) and plant (shoot and root biomass; consumption; plant C, N, and fiber content; plant N pool) properties.


Risch, Anita C.; Schutz, Martin; Vandegehuchte, Martijn L.; van der Putten, Wim H.; Duyts, Henk; Raschein, Ursina; Gwiazdowicz, Dariusz J.; Busse, Matt D.; Page-Dumroese, Deborah S.; Zimmerman, Stephan. 2015. Aboveground vertebrate and invertebrate herbivore impacts on net N mineralization in subalpine grasslands. Ecology. 96(12): 3312-3322.