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Code and data for: Nitrogen-induced hysteresis in grassland biodiversity: A theoretical test of litter-mediated mechanisms

Cite this dataset

Meyer, Katherine; Broda, James (2022). Code and data for: Nitrogen-induced hysteresis in grassland biodiversity: A theoretical test of litter-mediated mechanisms [Dataset]. Dryad. https://doi.org/10.5061/dryad.dbrv15f4v

Abstract

The global rise in anthropogenic reactive nitrogen (N) and the negative impacts of N deposition on terrestrial plant diversity are well-documented. The R* theory of resource competition predicts reversible decreases in plant diversity in response to N loading. However, empirical evidence for the reversibility of N-induced biodiversity loss is mixed. In a long-term N-enrichment experiment in Minnesota, a low-diversity state that emerged during N addition has persisted for decades after additions ceased. Hypothesized mechanisms preventing recovery of biodiversity include nutrient recycling, insufficient external seed supply, and litter inhibition of plant growth. Here we present an ODE model that unifies these mechanisms, produces bistability at intermediate N inputs, and qualitatively matches the observed hysteresis at Cedar Creek. Key features of the model, including native species' growth advantage in low-N conditions and limitation by litter accumulation, generalize from Cedar Creek to North American grasslands. Our results suggest that effective biodiversity restoration in these systems may require management beyond reducing N inputs, such as burning, grazing, haying, and seed additions. By coupling resource competition with an additional inter-specific inhibitory process, the model also illustrates a general mechanism for bistability and hysteresis that may occur in multiple ecosystem types. 

Methods

The MATLAB and Mathematica codes used to visualize and simulate the model were developed by Katherine Meyer and James Broda.

The data used to estimate parameters come from public datasets obtained from the BioCON experiment (e141) at Cedar Creek Ecosystem Science Reserve and the Total Deposition Maps collection prepared by the National Atmospheric Deposition Program (NADP) and US Environmental Protection Agency. The README.md file provides further details on the sources and processing of data.

Usage notes

MATLAB (open-source alternative Octave)

Mathematica

R/RStudio

Funding

National Science Foundation of Sri Lanka, Award: DMS-1722578

National Science Foundation of Sri Lanka, Award: DEB-1831944

National Science Foundation of Sri Lanka, Award: DMS-1645643