Fertilization, especially with nitrogen (N), increases aboveground primary productivity (APP), but reduces plant species richness at some level. Silicon (Si) fertilization alone, or with addition of nitrogen or phosphorus (P), has multiple direct and indirect beneficial effects on plant growth and development, for both individuals and the whole community. In a new study published in AoB PLANTS, Xu et al. examined the effects of Si, N, P, NSi and PSi combinations on APP and species richness of the community and of four functional groups in an alpine meadow. Plots fertilized with silicon in combination with either nitrogen or phosphorus had higher APP and higher species richness than when fertilized with nitrogen or phosphorus alone. Their findings highlight the importance of silicon in improving APP and alleviating nitrogen fertilization-induced biodiversity loss in grasslands, and will help improve our ability to predict community composition and biomass dynamics in alpine meadow ecosystems subject to changing nutrient availability.
Xu, D., Fang, X., Zhang, R., Gao, T., Bu, H., & Du, G. (2015). Influences of nitrogen, phosphorus and silicon addition on plant productivity and species richness in an alpine meadow. AoB Plants, 7, plv125. http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/aobpla/plv125