A cross-system synthesis of consumer and nutrient resource control on producer biomass

Daniel S. Gruner, Jennifer E. Smith, Eric W. Seabloom, Stuart A. Sandin, Jacqueline T. Ngai, Helmut Hillebrand, W. Stanley Harpole, James Elser, Elsa E. Cleland, Matthew E S Bracken, Elizabeth T. Borer, Benjamin M. Bolker

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

228 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

Nutrient availability and herbivory control the biomass of primary producer communities to varying degrees across ecosystems. Ecological theory, individual experiments in many different systems, and system-specific quantitative reviews have suggested that (i) bottom-up control is pervasive but top-down control is more influential in aquatic habitats relative to terrestrial systems and (ii) bottom-up and top-down forces are interdependent, with statistical interactions that synergize or dampen relative influences on producer biomass. We used simple dynamic models to review ecological mechanisms that generate independent vs. interactive responses of community-level biomass. We calibrated these mechanistic predictions with the metrics of factorial meta-analysis and tested their prevalence across freshwater, marine and terrestrial ecosystems with a comprehensive meta-analysis of 191 factorial manipulations of herbivores and nutrients. Our analysis showed that producer community biomass increased with fertilization across all systems, although increases were greatest in freshwater habitats. Herbivore removal generally increased producer biomass in both freshwater and marine systems, but effects were inconsistent on land. With the exception of marine temperate rocky reef systems that showed positive synergism of nutrient enrichment and herbivore removal, experimental studies showed limited support for statistical interactions between nutrient and herbivory treatments on producer biomass. Top-down control of herbivores, compensatory behaviour of multiple herbivore guilds, spatial and temporal heterogeneity of interactions, and herbivore-mediated nutrient recycling may lower the probability of consistent interactive effects on producer biomass. Continuing studies should expand the temporal and spatial scales of experiments, particularly in understudied terrestrial systems; broaden factorial designs to manipulate independently multiple producer resources (e.g. nitrogen, phosphorus, light), multiple herbivore taxa or guilds (e.g. vertebrates and invertebrates) and multiple trophic levels; and - in addition to measuring producer biomass - assess the responses of species diversity, community composition and nutrient status.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)740-755
Number of pages16
JournalEcology Letters
Volume11
Issue number7
DOIs
StatePublished - Jul 2008

Fingerprint

herbivores
herbivore
synthesis
nutrient
biomass
nutrients
resource
top-down control
meta-analysis
guild
herbivory
bottom-up control
ecological theory
synergism
freshwater ecosystem
nutrient enrichment
habitat
nutrient availability
aquatic habitat
terrestrial ecosystem

Keywords

  • Consumer-resource theory
  • Factorial meta-analysis
  • Fertilization
  • Freshwater
  • Herbivore exclusion
  • Marine and terrestrial ecosystems
  • Plant community
  • Primary production
  • Top-down and bottom-up control

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ecology

Cite this

Gruner, D. S., Smith, J. E., Seabloom, E. W., Sandin, S. A., Ngai, J. T., Hillebrand, H., ... Bolker, B. M. (2008). A cross-system synthesis of consumer and nutrient resource control on producer biomass. Ecology Letters, 11(7), 740-755. https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1461-0248.2008.01192.x

A cross-system synthesis of consumer and nutrient resource control on producer biomass. / Gruner, Daniel S.; Smith, Jennifer E.; Seabloom, Eric W.; Sandin, Stuart A.; Ngai, Jacqueline T.; Hillebrand, Helmut; Harpole, W. Stanley; Elser, James; Cleland, Elsa E.; Bracken, Matthew E S; Borer, Elizabeth T.; Bolker, Benjamin M.

In: Ecology Letters, Vol. 11, No. 7, 07.2008, p. 740-755.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Gruner, DS, Smith, JE, Seabloom, EW, Sandin, SA, Ngai, JT, Hillebrand, H, Harpole, WS, Elser, J, Cleland, EE, Bracken, MES, Borer, ET & Bolker, BM 2008, 'A cross-system synthesis of consumer and nutrient resource control on producer biomass', Ecology Letters, vol. 11, no. 7, pp. 740-755. https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1461-0248.2008.01192.x
Gruner DS, Smith JE, Seabloom EW, Sandin SA, Ngai JT, Hillebrand H et al. A cross-system synthesis of consumer and nutrient resource control on producer biomass. Ecology Letters. 2008 Jul;11(7):740-755. https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1461-0248.2008.01192.x
Gruner, Daniel S. ; Smith, Jennifer E. ; Seabloom, Eric W. ; Sandin, Stuart A. ; Ngai, Jacqueline T. ; Hillebrand, Helmut ; Harpole, W. Stanley ; Elser, James ; Cleland, Elsa E. ; Bracken, Matthew E S ; Borer, Elizabeth T. ; Bolker, Benjamin M. / A cross-system synthesis of consumer and nutrient resource control on producer biomass. In: Ecology Letters. 2008 ; Vol. 11, No. 7. pp. 740-755.
@article{dc5f43d92e634642b51ef73b493748b6,
title = "A cross-system synthesis of consumer and nutrient resource control on producer biomass",
abstract = "Nutrient availability and herbivory control the biomass of primary producer communities to varying degrees across ecosystems. Ecological theory, individual experiments in many different systems, and system-specific quantitative reviews have suggested that (i) bottom-up control is pervasive but top-down control is more influential in aquatic habitats relative to terrestrial systems and (ii) bottom-up and top-down forces are interdependent, with statistical interactions that synergize or dampen relative influences on producer biomass. We used simple dynamic models to review ecological mechanisms that generate independent vs. interactive responses of community-level biomass. We calibrated these mechanistic predictions with the metrics of factorial meta-analysis and tested their prevalence across freshwater, marine and terrestrial ecosystems with a comprehensive meta-analysis of 191 factorial manipulations of herbivores and nutrients. Our analysis showed that producer community biomass increased with fertilization across all systems, although increases were greatest in freshwater habitats. Herbivore removal generally increased producer biomass in both freshwater and marine systems, but effects were inconsistent on land. With the exception of marine temperate rocky reef systems that showed positive synergism of nutrient enrichment and herbivore removal, experimental studies showed limited support for statistical interactions between nutrient and herbivory treatments on producer biomass. Top-down control of herbivores, compensatory behaviour of multiple herbivore guilds, spatial and temporal heterogeneity of interactions, and herbivore-mediated nutrient recycling may lower the probability of consistent interactive effects on producer biomass. Continuing studies should expand the temporal and spatial scales of experiments, particularly in understudied terrestrial systems; broaden factorial designs to manipulate independently multiple producer resources (e.g. nitrogen, phosphorus, light), multiple herbivore taxa or guilds (e.g. vertebrates and invertebrates) and multiple trophic levels; and - in addition to measuring producer biomass - assess the responses of species diversity, community composition and nutrient status.",
keywords = "Consumer-resource theory, Factorial meta-analysis, Fertilization, Freshwater, Herbivore exclusion, Marine and terrestrial ecosystems, Plant community, Primary production, Top-down and bottom-up control",
author = "Gruner, {Daniel S.} and Smith, {Jennifer E.} and Seabloom, {Eric W.} and Sandin, {Stuart A.} and Ngai, {Jacqueline T.} and Helmut Hillebrand and Harpole, {W. Stanley} and James Elser and Cleland, {Elsa E.} and Bracken, {Matthew E S} and Borer, {Elizabeth T.} and Bolker, {Benjamin M.}",
year = "2008",
month = "7",
doi = "10.1111/j.1461-0248.2008.01192.x",
language = "English (US)",
volume = "11",
pages = "740--755",
journal = "Ecology Letters",
issn = "1461-023X",
publisher = "Wiley-Blackwell",
number = "7",

}

TY - JOUR

T1 - A cross-system synthesis of consumer and nutrient resource control on producer biomass

AU - Gruner, Daniel S.

AU - Smith, Jennifer E.

AU - Seabloom, Eric W.

AU - Sandin, Stuart A.

AU - Ngai, Jacqueline T.

AU - Hillebrand, Helmut

AU - Harpole, W. Stanley

AU - Elser, James

AU - Cleland, Elsa E.

AU - Bracken, Matthew E S

AU - Borer, Elizabeth T.

AU - Bolker, Benjamin M.

PY - 2008/7

Y1 - 2008/7

N2 - Nutrient availability and herbivory control the biomass of primary producer communities to varying degrees across ecosystems. Ecological theory, individual experiments in many different systems, and system-specific quantitative reviews have suggested that (i) bottom-up control is pervasive but top-down control is more influential in aquatic habitats relative to terrestrial systems and (ii) bottom-up and top-down forces are interdependent, with statistical interactions that synergize or dampen relative influences on producer biomass. We used simple dynamic models to review ecological mechanisms that generate independent vs. interactive responses of community-level biomass. We calibrated these mechanistic predictions with the metrics of factorial meta-analysis and tested their prevalence across freshwater, marine and terrestrial ecosystems with a comprehensive meta-analysis of 191 factorial manipulations of herbivores and nutrients. Our analysis showed that producer community biomass increased with fertilization across all systems, although increases were greatest in freshwater habitats. Herbivore removal generally increased producer biomass in both freshwater and marine systems, but effects were inconsistent on land. With the exception of marine temperate rocky reef systems that showed positive synergism of nutrient enrichment and herbivore removal, experimental studies showed limited support for statistical interactions between nutrient and herbivory treatments on producer biomass. Top-down control of herbivores, compensatory behaviour of multiple herbivore guilds, spatial and temporal heterogeneity of interactions, and herbivore-mediated nutrient recycling may lower the probability of consistent interactive effects on producer biomass. Continuing studies should expand the temporal and spatial scales of experiments, particularly in understudied terrestrial systems; broaden factorial designs to manipulate independently multiple producer resources (e.g. nitrogen, phosphorus, light), multiple herbivore taxa or guilds (e.g. vertebrates and invertebrates) and multiple trophic levels; and - in addition to measuring producer biomass - assess the responses of species diversity, community composition and nutrient status.

AB - Nutrient availability and herbivory control the biomass of primary producer communities to varying degrees across ecosystems. Ecological theory, individual experiments in many different systems, and system-specific quantitative reviews have suggested that (i) bottom-up control is pervasive but top-down control is more influential in aquatic habitats relative to terrestrial systems and (ii) bottom-up and top-down forces are interdependent, with statistical interactions that synergize or dampen relative influences on producer biomass. We used simple dynamic models to review ecological mechanisms that generate independent vs. interactive responses of community-level biomass. We calibrated these mechanistic predictions with the metrics of factorial meta-analysis and tested their prevalence across freshwater, marine and terrestrial ecosystems with a comprehensive meta-analysis of 191 factorial manipulations of herbivores and nutrients. Our analysis showed that producer community biomass increased with fertilization across all systems, although increases were greatest in freshwater habitats. Herbivore removal generally increased producer biomass in both freshwater and marine systems, but effects were inconsistent on land. With the exception of marine temperate rocky reef systems that showed positive synergism of nutrient enrichment and herbivore removal, experimental studies showed limited support for statistical interactions between nutrient and herbivory treatments on producer biomass. Top-down control of herbivores, compensatory behaviour of multiple herbivore guilds, spatial and temporal heterogeneity of interactions, and herbivore-mediated nutrient recycling may lower the probability of consistent interactive effects on producer biomass. Continuing studies should expand the temporal and spatial scales of experiments, particularly in understudied terrestrial systems; broaden factorial designs to manipulate independently multiple producer resources (e.g. nitrogen, phosphorus, light), multiple herbivore taxa or guilds (e.g. vertebrates and invertebrates) and multiple trophic levels; and - in addition to measuring producer biomass - assess the responses of species diversity, community composition and nutrient status.

KW - Consumer-resource theory

KW - Factorial meta-analysis

KW - Fertilization

KW - Freshwater

KW - Herbivore exclusion

KW - Marine and terrestrial ecosystems

KW - Plant community

KW - Primary production

KW - Top-down and bottom-up control

UR - http://www.scopus.com/inward/record.url?scp=44649169148&partnerID=8YFLogxK

UR - http://www.scopus.com/inward/citedby.url?scp=44649169148&partnerID=8YFLogxK

U2 - 10.1111/j.1461-0248.2008.01192.x

DO - 10.1111/j.1461-0248.2008.01192.x

M3 - Article

VL - 11

SP - 740

EP - 755

JO - Ecology Letters

JF - Ecology Letters

SN - 1461-023X

IS - 7

ER -