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Grassland resistance and resilience after drought depends on management intensity and species richness.

Type of publication Peer-reviewed
Publikationsform Original article (peer-reviewed)
Publication date 2012
Author Vogel Anja, Scherer-Lorenzen Michael, Weigelt Alexandra,
Project Mechanisms underlying plant community productivity, stability and assembly (D-A-CH/LAE)
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Original article (peer-reviewed)

Journal PloS one
Volume (Issue) 7(5)
Page(s) 36992 - 36992
Title of proceedings PloS one
DOI 10.1371/journal.pone.0036992

Open Access

Type of Open Access Publisher (Gold Open Access)


The degree to which biodiversity may promote the stability of grasslands in the light of climatic variability, such as prolonged summer drought, has attracted considerable interest. Studies so far yielded inconsistent results and in addition, the effect of different grassland management practices on their response to drought remains an open question. We experimentally combined the manipulation of prolonged summer drought (sheltered vs. unsheltered sites), plant species loss (6 levels of 60 down to 1 species) and management intensity (4 levels varying in mowing frequency and amount of fertilizer application). Stability was measured as resistance and resilience of aboveground biomass production in grasslands against decreased summer precipitation, where resistance is the difference between drought treatments directly after drought induction and resilience is the difference between drought treatments in spring of the following year. We hypothesized that (i) management intensification amplifies biomass decrease under drought, (ii) resistance decreases with increasing species richness and with management intensification and (iii) resilience increases with increasing species richness and with management intensification.We found that resistance and resilience of grasslands to summer drought are highly dependent on management intensity and partly on species richness. Frequent mowing reduced the resistance of grasslands against drought and increasing species richness decreased resistance in one of our two study years. Resilience was positively related to species richness only under the highest management treatment. We conclude that low mowing frequency is more important for high resistance against drought than species richness. Nevertheless, species richness increased aboveground productivity in all management treatments both under drought and ambient conditions and should therefore be maintained under future climates.