Different plant traits affect two pathways of riparian nitrogen removal in a restored freshwater wetland
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Background & aims: Plants may have dissimilar effects on ecosystem processes because they possess different attributes. Given increasing biodiversity losses, it is important to understand which plant traits are key drivers of ecosystem functions. To address this question, we studied the response of two ecosystem functions that remove nitrogen (N) from wetland soils, the accumulation of N in plant biomass and denitrification potential (DNP), to variation in plant trait composition. Methods: Our experiment manipulated plant composition in a riparian wetland. We determined relative importance of plant traits and environmental variables as predictors of each ecosystem function. Results: We demonstrate that Water Use Efficiency (WUE) had a strong negative effect on biomass N. Root porosity and belowground biomass were negatively correlated with DNP. Trait ordination indicated that WUE was largely orthogonal to traits that maximized DNP. Conclusions: These results indicate that plant species with different trait values are required to maintain multiple ecosystem functions, and provide a more mechanistic, trait-based link between the recent findings that higher biodiversity is necessary for multi-functionality. While we selected plant traits based on ecological theory, several of the plant traits were not good predictors of each ecosystem function suggesting the ecological theory linking traits to function is incomplete and requires strengthening. © 2012 Springer Science+Business Media B.V.
Published Version (Please cite this version)10.1007/s11104-011-1113-3
Publication InfoRichardson, Curtis J; Sutton-Grier, AE; & Wright, Justin Prouty (2013). Different plant traits affect two pathways of riparian nitrogen removal in a restored freshwater wetland. Plant and Soil, 365(1-2). pp. 41-57. 10.1007/s11104-011-1113-3. Retrieved from https://hdl.handle.net/10161/15712.
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John O. Blackburn Distinguished Professor
Curtis J. Richardson is Professor of Resource Ecology and founding Director of the Duke University Wetland Center in the Nicholas School of the Environment. Dr. Richardson earned his degrees from the State University of New York and the University of Tennessee. His research interests in applied ecology focus on long-term ecosystem response to large-scale perturbations such as climate change, toxic materials, trace metals, flooding, or nutrient additions. He has specific interests in phosphor
Associate Professor of Biology
My research focuses on understanding the causes and consequences of patterns of biological diversity across the planet. I am particularly interested in two broad questions: 1)How does the modification of the environment by organisms affect community structure and ecosystem function? and 2) what aspects of biodiversity matter most in the regulation of ecosystem function? While much of my research has focused on wetland plant communities, I am willing to study any organism and work in any ecosys
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