Calcium Induces Long-Term Legacy Effects in a Subalpine Ecosystem

Schaffner, Urs and Alewell, Christine and Eschen, Rene and Matthies, Dieter and Spiegelberger, Thomas and Hegg, Otto. (2012) Calcium Induces Long-Term Legacy Effects in a Subalpine Ecosystem. PLoS ONE, Vol. 7, H. 12 , e51818.

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Official URL: http://edoc.unibas.ch/dok/A6070227

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Human activities have transformed a significant proportion of the world’s land surface, with profound effects on ecosystemprocesses. Soil applications of macronutrients such as nitrate, phosphorus, potassium or calcium are routinely used in themanagement of croplands, grasslands and forests to improve plant health or increase productivity. However, while theeffects of continuous fertilization and liming on terrestrial ecosystems are well documented, remarkably little is knownabout the legacy effect of historical fertilization and liming events in terrestrial ecosystems and of the mechanisms involved.Here, we show that more than 70 years after the last application of lime on a subalpine grassland, all major soil and plantcalcium pools were still significantly larger in limed than in unlimed plots, and that the resulting shift in the soil calcium/aluminium ratio continues to affect ecosystem services such as primary production. The difference in the calcium content ofthe vegetation and the topmost 10 cm of the soil in limed vs. unlimed plots amounts to approximately 19.5 g m22,equivalent to 16.3% of the amount that was added to the plots some 70 years ago. In contrast, plots that were treated withnitrogen-phosphorus-potassium fertilizer in the 1930s did not differ from unfertilized plots in any of the soil and vegetationcharacteristics measured. Our findings suggest that the long-term legacy effect of historical liming is due to long-termstorage of added calcium in stable soil pools, rather than a general increase in nutrient availability. Our results demonstratethat single applications of calcium in its carbonated form can profoundly and persistently alter ecosystem processes andservices in mountain ecosystems.
Faculties and Departments:05 Faculty of Science > Departement Umweltwissenschaften > Geowissenschaften > Umweltgeowissenschaften (Alewell)
UniBasel Contributors:Alewell, Christine
Item Type:Article, refereed
Article Subtype:Research Article
Publisher:Public Library of Science
Note:Publication type according to Uni Basel Research Database: Journal article
Last Modified:31 Aug 2018 06:40
Deposited On:01 Mar 2013 11:06

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