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Science. 2009 Dec 4;326(5958):1399-402. doi: 10.1126/science.1178820.

Elevated CO2 reduces losses of plant diversity caused by nitrogen deposition.

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  • 1Department of Forest Resources, University of Minnesota, 1530 Cleveland Avenue North, St. Paul, MN 55108, USA.

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  • Science. 2010 Feb 12;327(5967):781.


The interactive effects of rising atmospheric carbon dioxide (CO2) concentrations and elevated nitrogen (N) deposition on plant diversity are not well understood. This is of concern because both factors are important components of global environmental change and because each might suppress diversity, with their combined effects possibly additive or synergistic. In a long-term open-air experiment, grassland assemblages planted with 16 species were grown under all combinations of ambient and elevated CO2 and ambient and elevated N. Over 10 years, elevated N reduced species richness by 16% at ambient CO2 but by just 8% at elevated CO2. This resulted from multiple effects of CO2 and N on plant traits and soil resources that altered competitive interactions among species. Elevated CO2 thus ameliorated the negative effects of N enrichment on species richness.

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