2023-04-01 to 2026-03-31
Approx. 900 thsd. EUR
Prof. Dr. Martin Wassen
Sustainable Development – Faculty of Geosciences, Utrecht University, Utrecht, The Netherlands
Department of Biology, Free University of Brussels, Brussels, Belgium
Institute of Atmospheric Sciences and Climate, Italian National Research Council, Torino, Italy
Multidisciplinary Institute for Environmental Studies, University of Alicante, Alicante, Spain
The long-term use of fertilizers in the European Union and the resulting enrichment of nitrogen (N) and phosphorus (P) has contributed to biodiversity loss and disruption of natural ecosystems. Atmospheric N-deposition is widespread, nitrate leaches from agricultural fields into nature areas and most European regions have too much phosphate in their soils. Moreover, nutrient enrichment makes plant communities more vulnerable to invasive species.
However, it remains unclear how local changes in nutrient availability and balances between the major nutrients N, P and K (potassium) affect the distribution of plant species on a European scale, and how this affects the competition between species and the conservation status of threatened plant species in current protected nature networks.
The main objective of DiviN-P is to determine which grassland species are most vulnerable and how this relates to nutrient-limitation and -enrichment. From this, recommendations for management and planning are made to European conservationists, environmental policy makers and politicians.
DiviN-P combines three cross-feeding research approaches: synthetic analyses of a large field-observations dataset (WP1), manipulative experiments (WP2), and modelling (WP3), and pays special attention to knowledge transfer and impact (WP4). The project will link the type of nutrient limitation to biomass production, plant diversity and occurrence of endemic threatened and invasive species and to species traits. Currently, such a European wide overview is lacking since data on nutrient limitation and plant species is only available for a limited number of specific locations scattered over Europe. Furthermore, for many grassland species trait measurements are lacking. The data collected and analyzed in this project are of pivotal importance for developing effective management measures, nutrient policies and landscape and land use planning for protecting wild populations of plant species and specifically plant species that are at risk of extinction. Connecting areas of a certain type of nutrient limitation will build resilient stochiometric networks by enhancing dispersal possibilities for European plant species that are confined to a certain type of nutrient limitation also taking into consideration changes in species distribution following climate change and expansion of invasive species.