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      Anchoring grassland sustainability with a nature‐based small burrowing mammal control strategy

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          Mechanisms of Maintenance of Species Diversity

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            Effects of herbivores on grassland plant diversity

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              Herbivores and nutrients control grassland plant diversity via light limitation.

              Human alterations to nutrient cycles and herbivore communities are affecting global biodiversity dramatically. Ecological theory predicts these changes should be strongly counteractive: nutrient addition drives plant species loss through intensified competition for light, whereas herbivores prevent competitive exclusion by increasing ground-level light, particularly in productive systems. Here we use experimental data spanning a globally relevant range of conditions to test the hypothesis that herbaceous plant species losses caused by eutrophication may be offset by increased light availability due to herbivory. This experiment, replicated in 40 grasslands on 6 continents, demonstrates that nutrients and herbivores can serve as counteracting forces to control local plant diversity through light limitation, independent of site productivity, soil nitrogen, herbivore type and climate. Nutrient addition consistently reduced local diversity through light limitation, and herbivory rescued diversity at sites where it alleviated light limitation. Thus, species loss from anthropogenic eutrophication can be ameliorated in grasslands where herbivory increases ground-level light.
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                Author and article information

                Contributors
                Journal
                Journal of Animal Ecology
                Journal of Animal Ecology
                Wiley
                0021-8790
                1365-2656
                May 21 2023
                Affiliations
                [1 ]State Key Laboratory of Herbage Improvement and Grassland Agro‐Ecosystems College of Ecology Lanzhou University Lanzhou China
                [2 ]Health and Environmental Sciences Xi'an Jiaotong‐Liverpool University Suzhou China
                [3 ]School of Civil Engineering, Permafrost Institute Institute of Cold Regions Science and Engineering, and Northeast‐China Observatory and Research‐Station of Permafrost Geo‐Environment (Ministry of Education) Northeast Forestry University Harbin China
                [4 ]State Key Laboratory of Frozen Soils Engineering Northwest Institute of Resources and Eco‐environment Chinese Academy of Sciences Lanzhou China
                [5 ]Grassland Station in Henan Mongolian Autonomous County Hen'an China
                [6 ]Key Laboratory of Restoration Ecology for Cold Regions in Qinghai Northwest Institute of Plateau Biology Chinese Academy of Sciences Xining China
                [7 ]School of Grassland Science Beijing Forestry University Beijing China
                Article
                10.1111/1365-2656.13938
                974fa686-eb7f-452d-a311-b14a6b691ad4
                © 2023

                http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/termsAndConditions#vor

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