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Data from: Human eutrophication drives biogeographic saltmarsh productivity patterns in China

Cite this dataset

Xiao, Xu et al. (2019). Data from: Human eutrophication drives biogeographic saltmarsh productivity patterns in China [Dataset]. Dryad.


Saltmarshes are important natural carbon sinks with a large capacity to absorb exogenous nutrient inputs. The effects of nutrients on biogeographic productivity patterns, however, have been poorly explored in saltmarshes. We conducted field surveys to examine how complex environments affect productivity of two common saltmarsh plants, invasive Spartina alterniflora and native Phragmites australis, along an 18,000-km latitudinal gradient on the Chinese coastline. We harvested peak aboveground biomass as a proxy for productivity, and measured leaf functional traits (e.g., leaf area, specific leaf area [SLA], leaf nitrogen [N] and phosphorus [P]), soil nutrients (dissolved inorganic N (DIN) and available P (AP)), and salinity. We compiled data on mean annual temperature (MAT) and exogenous nutrients (both N and P). Then, we examined how these abiotic factors affect saltmarsh productivity using both linear mixed effect models and structural equation modelling. Using a trait-based approach, we also examined how saltmarsh productivity responds to changing environments across latitude. Exogenous nutrients (both N and P) compared with temperature and other variables (e.g., DIN, AP, salinity) were the dominant factors in explaining the biogeographic productivity patterns of both S. alterniflora and P. australis. Leaf size-related traits (e.g., leaf area), rather than leaf economic traits (e.g., SLA, leaf N and P), can be used to indicate the positive effects of exogenous nutrients on the productivity of these two species. Our results demonstrated that human eutrophication surpassed temperature as the major driver of biogeographic saltmarsh productivity pattern, challenging current models in which biogeographic productivity pattern is primarily controlled by temperature. Our findings have potential broad implications for the management of S. alterniflora, which is a global invader, as it has benefited from coastal eutrophication. Furthermore, exogenous nutrient availability and leaf size need to be integrated into earth system models that are used to predict global plant productivity in saltmarshes.

Usage notes


East coast of China