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Oecologia. 2016 Apr;180(4):1001-13. doi: 10.1007/s00442-016-3551-3. Epub 2016 Jan 30.

Relative contribution of soil, management and traits to co-variations of multiple ecosystem properties in grasslands.

Author information

1
Laboratoire d'Ecologie Alpine, CNRS-Université Grenoble Alpes, CS 40700, 38058, Grenoble Cedex 9, France.
2
IRSTEA, UR Mountain Ecosystems, 2 rue de la Papeterie, BP 76, 38402, Saint Martin d'Hères Cedex, France.
3
Laboratoire d'Ecologie Alpine, CNRS-Université Grenoble Alpes, CS 40700, 38058, Grenoble Cedex 9, France. sandra.lavorel@ujf-grenoble.fr.

Abstract

Ecological intensification promotes the better use of ecosystem functioning for agricultural production and as a provider of additional regulation and cultural services. We investigated the mechanisms underpinning potential ecological intensification of livestock production in the Vercors mountains (France). We quantified the variations in seven ecosystem properties associated with key ecosystem services: above-ground biomass production at first harvest, fodder digestibility, plant species richness, soil organic matter content, soil carbon content, total microbial biomass and soil bacteria:fungi ratio across 39 grassland plots representing varying management types and intensity. Our analyses confirmed joint effects of management, traits and soil abiotic parameters on variations in ecosystem properties, with the combination of management and traits being most influential. The variations explained by traits were consistent with the leaf economics spectrum model and its implications for ecosystem functioning. The observed independence between ecosystem properties relevant to production (forage biomass, digestibility and nutrient turnover) on the one hand and soil stocks (organic matter, carbon and microbial stocks) on the other hand suggests that an intensification of fodder production might be compatible with the preservation of the soil capital. We highlight that appropriate choices regarding various practices, such as the first date of grazing or mowing being dependent on soil moisture, have important consequences on a number of ecosystem properties relevant for ecosystem services and may influence biodiversity patterns. Such avenues for ecological intensification should be considered as part of further landscape- and farm-scale analyses of the relationships between farm functioning and ecosystem services.

KEYWORDS:

Biodiversity; Ecological intensification; Flowering phenology; Leaf economics spectrum; Mountain grassland

PMID:
26830292
DOI:
10.1007/s00442-016-3551-3
[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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