PerspectiveEcology

Biodiversity Under Global Change

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Science  04 Dec 2009:
Vol. 326, Issue 5958, pp. 1353-1354
DOI: 10.1126/science.1183271

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Summary

Many common plant species, such as prairie grasses, have evolved traits for the efficient capture and use of two key resources that limit terrestrial productivity: nitrogen (N) and carbon dioxide (CO2). Over the past 60 years, human activity has vastly increased the availability of these resources. Atmospheric CO2 concentration has increased by 40%, and N availability has more than doubled. These changes are likely to have important consequences for species interactions, community structure, and ecosystem functioning. On page 1399 of this issue, Reich investigates one important consequence, biodiversity loss, based on a long-term elevated CO2 and nitrogen fertilization experiment (1).