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      Global meta-analysis shows pervasive phosphorus limitation of aboveground plant production in natural terrestrial ecosystems

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          Abstract

          Phosphorus (P) limitation of aboveground plant production is usually assumed to occur in tropical regions but rarely elsewhere. Here we report that such P limitation is more widespread and much stronger than previously estimated. In our global meta-analysis, almost half (46.2%) of 652 P-addition field experiments reveal a significant P limitation on aboveground plant production. Globally, P additions increase aboveground plant production by 34.9% in natural terrestrial ecosystems, which is 7.0–15.9% higher than previously suggested. In croplands, by contrast, P additions increase aboveground plant production by only 13.9%, probably because of historical fertilizations. The magnitude of P limitation also differs among climate zones and regions, and is driven by climate, ecosystem properties, and fertilization regimes. In addition to confirming that P limitation is widespread in tropical regions, our study demonstrates that P limitation often occurs in other regions. This suggests that previous studies have underestimated the importance of altered P supply on aboveground plant production in natural terrestrial ecosystems.

          Abstract

          Plants are thought to be limited by phosphorus (P) especially in tropical regions. Here, Hou et al. report a meta-analysis of P fertilization experiments to show widespread P limitation on plant growth across terrestrial ecosystems modulated by climate, ecosystem properties, and fertilization regimes

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          Most cited references 32

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          Global analysis of nitrogen and phosphorus limitation of primary producers in freshwater, marine and terrestrial ecosystems.

          The cycles of the key nutrient elements nitrogen (N) and phosphorus (P) have been massively altered by anthropogenic activities. Thus, it is essential to understand how photosynthetic production across diverse ecosystems is, or is not, limited by N and P. Via a large-scale meta-analysis of experimental enrichments, we show that P limitation is equally strong across these major habitats and that N and P limitation are equivalent within both terrestrial and freshwater systems. Furthermore, simultaneous N and P enrichment produces strongly positive synergistic responses in all three environments. Thus, contrary to some prevailing paradigms, freshwater, marine and terrestrial ecosystems are surprisingly similar in terms of N and P limitation.
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            Global patterns of plant leaf N and P in relation to temperature and latitude.

            A global data set including 5,087 observations of leaf nitrogen (N) and phosphorus (P) for 1,280 plant species at 452 sites and of associated mean climate indices demonstrates broad biogeographic patterns. In general, leaf N and P decline and the N/P ratio increases toward the equator as average temperature and growing season length increase. These patterns are similar for five dominant plant groups, coniferous trees and four angiosperm groups (grasses, herbs, shrubs, and trees). These results support the hypotheses that (i) leaf N and P increase from the tropics to the cooler and drier midlatitudes because of temperature-related plant physiological stoichiometry and biogeographical gradients in soil substrate age and then plateau or decrease at high latitudes because of cold temperature effects on biogeochemistry and (ii) the N/P ratio increases with mean temperature and toward the equator, because P is a major limiting nutrient in older tropical soils and N is the major limiting nutrient in younger temperate and high-latitude soils.
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              Litterfall, Nutrient Cycling, and Nutrient Limitation in Tropical Forests

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                Author and article information

                Contributors
                houeq@scbg.ac.cn
                dzwen@scbg.ac.cn
                Journal
                Nat Commun
                Nat Commun
                Nature Communications
                Nature Publishing Group UK (London )
                2041-1723
                31 January 2020
                31 January 2020
                2020
                : 11
                Affiliations
                [1 ]ISNI 0000 0001 1014 7864, GRID grid.458495.1, Key Laboratory of Vegetation Restoration and Management of Degraded Ecosystems, , South China Botanical Garden, Chinese Academy of Sciences, ; Guangzhou, 510650 China
                [2 ]ISNI 0000000119573309, GRID grid.9227.e, Center of Plant Ecology, , Core Botanical Gardens, Chinese Academy of Sciences, ; Guangzhou, 510650 China
                [3 ]ISNI 0000 0004 1936 8040, GRID grid.261120.6, Center for Ecosystem Science and Society, , Northern Arizona University, ; Flagstaff, AZ 86011 USA
                [4 ]ISNI 0000 0004 0437 5432, GRID grid.1022.1, Australian Rivers Institute, School of Environment and Science, , Griffith University, ; Nathan, QLD 4111 Australia
                Article
                14492
                10.1038/s41467-020-14492-w
                6994524
                32005808
                © The Author(s) 2020

                Open Access This article is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License, which permits use, sharing, adaptation, distribution and reproduction in any medium or format, as long as you give appropriate credit to the original author(s) and the source, provide a link to the Creative Commons license, and indicate if changes were made. The images or other third party material in this article are included in the article’s Creative Commons license, unless indicated otherwise in a credit line to the material. If material is not included in the article’s Creative Commons license and your intended use is not permitted by statutory regulation or exceeds the permitted use, you will need to obtain permission directly from the copyright holder. To view a copy of this license, visit http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/.

                Funding
                Funded by: FundRef https://doi.org/10.13039/501100001809, National Natural Science Foundation of China (National Science Foundation of China);
                Award ID: 31870464
                Award ID: 41401326
                Award ID: 41471443
                Award ID: 41973076
                Award Recipient :
                Funded by: FundRef https://doi.org/10.13039/100000001, National Science Foundation (NSF);
                Award ID: DEB 1655499
                Award Recipient :
                Categories
                Article
                Custom metadata
                © The Author(s) 2020

                Uncategorized

                climate-change ecology, biogeochemistry, ecosystem ecology

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