Data from: Effects of elevation and nitrogen and phosphorus fertilization on plant defence compounds in subarctic tundra heath vegetation
De Long, Jonathan R. et al. (2015), Data from: Effects of elevation and nitrogen and phosphorus fertilization on plant defence compounds in subarctic tundra heath vegetation, Dryad, Dataset, https://doi.org/10.5061/dryad.82gq2
1. Plant chemical and structural defence compounds are well known to impact upon herbivory of fresh leaves and influence decomposition rates after leaf senescence. A number of theories predict that alleviating nutrient limitation and reducing other environmental stressors will result in decreased production of plant chemical defences. 2. In this study, we measured plant defence properties [total polyphenols (TP), condensed tannins (CT) and lignin concentrations, and protein complexation capacity (PCC)] in both fresh and senesced plant leaves in a fully factorial N and P fertilization experiment set-up at each of three elevations along an elevational gradient in Swedish subarctic tundra heath vegetation. Further, we performed a decomposition of variance analysis on community-weighted averages (CWAs) of plant defence properties to determine the relative contributions of interspecific and intraspecific variation to the total variation observed in response to elevation and nutrient addition. 3. We hypothesized that N fertilization would reduce plant defence properties and that this reduction would be greater at higher elevations, while the effects of P fertilization would have no effect at any elevation. 4. At the community level, N addition reduced CT and PCC in both fresh and senesced leaves and TP in senesced leaves, while P addition had few effects, broadly in line with our hypothesis. The effects of N addition frequently varied with elevation, but in contrast to our hypothesis, the said effects were strongest at the lowest elevations. The effects of N addition and the interactive effect of N with elevation were primarily driven by intraspecific, rather than interspecific, variation. 5. Our findings suggest that as temperatures warm and N availability increases due to global climate change, secondary metabolites in subarctic heath vegetation will decline particularly within species. Our results highlight the need to consider the effects of both nutrient availability and temperature, and their interaction, in driving subarctic plant defence.