Corporate Banner
Satellite Banner
Technology
Networks
Scientific Communities
 
Become a Member | Sign in
Home>News>This Article
  News
Return

Grazing Animals ‘Rescue’ Biodiversity Threatened by Fertiliser

Published: Monday, March 10, 2014
Last Updated: Monday, March 10, 2014
Bookmark and Share
Damaging impacts of fertiliser offset by herbivorous grazers, whose actions enhance the amount of sunlight available to lots of precious species.

Two wrongs do not make a right. But when it comes to the biodiversity of plants in grasslands, they just might. That is because two apparently negative impacts often controlled by humans — the use of fertiliser and the grazing of plant species by herbivores — combine to the benefit of biodiversity. This is according to an innovative international study involving Yvonne Buckley, Professor of Zoology at Trinity College Dublin, Ireland.

The findings, just published in the online edition of leading journal Nature, are important in a world in which humans are changing both the distribution of herbivores and the supply of nutrients like nitrogen or phosphorus that act as fertilisers. The findings will have major implications for our understanding of the complex interplay among nutrients, herbivores and plant growth, which impacts our capacity to feed a growing human population and protect threatened species and ecosystems.

In a globally collaborative study, scientists used the Nutrient Network, or ‘NutNet’, to help predict how grasslands around the world will respond to a changing environment. NutNet is a grass-roots campaign supported by scientists who volunteer their time and resources. There are now 75 sites around the world that are run by more than 100 scientists. Professor Buckley will soon establish the first Irish site to add to NutNet’s growing catchment area.
In this study, NutNet scientists gathered data from 40 sites that spanned six continents. They set up research plots with and without added fertiliser, and with and without fences to keep out local herbivores such as deer, kangaroos, sheep and zebras. Every year since 2005, they have measured the amount of plant material grown, the amount of light reaching the ground, and the diversity of different plant species growing in the plots.
“We found that fertiliser reduced the diversity of plant species in the plots because species less able to tolerate a lack of light were literally overshadowed by fast-growing neighbours,” said Professor Buckley.
“But whenever herbivores increased the amount of light that struck the ground, by eating plants, the total plant species diversity increased. What was especially interesting – and convincing – was that these results held true from Australia to Europe, China and the US, and whether the herbivores involved were rabbits, sheep, elephants or kangaroos.”
The findings add a key piece to the puzzle of how human impacts affect prairies, savannas, alpine meadows and other grasslands. Biodiversity plays an important role in how resilient communities of plants and animals are in the face of change. So by showing how fertilisation, grazing, and biodiversity are linked, the research moves us one step closer to understanding what we can do to help keep grassland ecosystems and all of the services they provide healthy and thriving in a changing world.

“Global patterns of biodiversity have largely defied explanation due to many interacting, local driving forces,” added Henry Gholz, Program Director in the National Science Foundation’s Division of Environmental Biology, which funded the coordination of this research.
“These results show that grassland biodiversity is likely largely determined by the offsetting influences of nutrition and grazing on light capture by plants.”


Further Information

Join For Free

Access to this exclusive content is for Technology Networks Premium members only.

Join Technology Networks Premium for free access to:

  • Exclusive articles
  • Presentations from international conferences
  • Over 3,500+ scientific posters on ePosters
  • More Than 5,000+ scientific videos on LabTube
  • 35 community eNewsletters


Sign In



Forgotten your details? Click Here
If you are not a member you can join here

*Please note: By logging into TechnologyNetworks.com you agree to accept the use of cookies. To find out more about the cookies we use and how to delete them, see our privacy policy.

Related Content

Blueprinting Cell Membrane Proteins
Recent breakthrough will make the blueprinting process faster, easier and cheaper, and should have major implications in the field of drug discovery and development.
Monday, June 08, 2015
Inflammation Stops The Clock
Researchers at Trinity College Dublin and the University of Pennsylvania have uncovered an important link between our body clock and the immune system that will have relevance to the treatment of inflammatory and infectious diseases.
Wednesday, May 20, 2015
Fertilization Destabilizes Grassland Ecosystems on a Global Scale
Collaborative research across five continents shows that fertilization drives the same damaging patterns seen in different grassland ecosystems across the planet.
Tuesday, February 18, 2014
New Cloud Computing System that can Reduce Carbon Emissions
The ‘Stratus’ system shares server load to meet green and cost-related goals of companies.
Wednesday, January 15, 2014
Scientists Discover Genetic Basis for Memory Formation with Implications for Neurological Diseases
Two genes linked to simple memory formation also regulate appropriate nerve responses that are lacking in related disease sufferers.
Monday, December 23, 2013
Elliot Meyerowitz Receives Trinity College Dublin Dawson Prize in Genetics
World-renowned plant biologist honoured for his contribution to genetics at Trinity.
Monday, December 09, 2013
Genetic Mutation Could Increase Understanding of ADHD
Absence of normal gene that expresses a protein involved in nerve cell communication results in seizures and hyperactivity.
Wednesday, November 27, 2013
International Research Project Identifies a New Genetic Mutation that Helps Explain the Development of Eczema
Scientists have identified a new genetic mutation linked to the development of a type of eczema known as atopic dermatitis (AD).
Monday, November 04, 2013
New Genetic Mutation Helps Explain Development of Eczema
Researchers found that a mutation in the gene Matt/Tmem79 led to the development of spontaneous dermatitis in mice.
Monday, November 04, 2013
Scientists Propose a Molecular Explanation for Degenerative Disease
An international collaboration has shed new light on the origins and molecular causes of age related degenerative conditions including Motor Neurone Disease (MND).
Monday, August 19, 2013
Scientists Solve Structure of Important Protein in Energy Storage of Cells
Scientists at Trinity College Dublin, using a highly specialised crystallography technique have solved a large protein structure that will increase our understanding of energy generation and storage in cells.
Wednesday, July 18, 2012
Scientific News
Mass Spec Technology Drives Innovation Across the Biopharma Workflow
With greater resolving power, analytical speed, and accuracy, new mass spectrometry technology and techniques are infiltrating the biopharmaceuticals workflow.
One Step Closer to Precision Medicine for Chronic Lung Disease Sufferers
A study led by University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, and National Jewish Health, has provided evidence of links between SNPs and known COPD blood protein biomarkers.
Gene Regulation in Brain May Explain Repetitive Behaviors in Rett Syndrome Patients
The research could be a key step in developing treatments to eliminate symptoms that drastically impair the quality of life in Rett patients.
Atmosphere Acidity Minimised to Preindustrial Levels
Sheet ice study shows acidic pollution of the atmosphere has now almost returned to preindustrial levels.
New Therapeutic Target for Crohn’s Disease
A promising new target for drugs that treat IBD has been identified along with a possible biomarker for IBD severity.
Culex Mosquitoes Do Not Transmit Zika
A study of the Culex species mosquito appears to show that the species does not transmit Zika virus.
Uncovering Water Bear Resilience
A protein identified in water bears can protect DNA of human cells from lethal doses of radiation damage.
“Sixth Sense” More Than a Feeling
NIH study of rare genetic disorder reveals importance of touch and body awareness.
Researchers Find Fungus-Fighting Compound
A compound has been identifed that blocks growth of a fungus responsible for lung infections and allergic reactions.
Analysing 10,000 Cells Simultaneously
New techniquethat traps 10,000 cells on a single chip has potential for cancer screening for individuals.
Scroll Up
Scroll Down
Skyscraper Banner

Skyscraper Banner
Go to LabTube
Go to eposters
 
Access to the latest scientific news
Exclusive articles
Upload and share your posters on ePosters
Latest presentations and webinars
View a library of 1,800+ scientific and medical posters
3,500+ scientific and medical posters
A library of 2,500+ scientific videos on LabTube
5,000+ scientific videos
Close
Premium CrownJOIN TECHNOLOGY NETWORKS PREMIUM FOR FREE!