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David Tilman Co-authors Paper Linking Nitrogen, Biodiversity, Productivity

David Tilman

Bren professor David Tilman has spent years studying various aspects of biodiversity, especially as it relates to the overall productivity of land. He also has a body of research related to the overuse of nitrogen in agriculture. In a recent paper published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Science, he and his co-authors synthesized thirty years of field data from the Nitrogen Enrichment Experiment in central Minnesota (Tilman divides his time between the University of Minnesota and the Bren School) to link nitrogen use, biodiversity loss, and productivity.

The authors found that continuously adding nitrogen fertilizer to the plots led to a loss of the dominant native perennial grass, Schizachyrium scoparium, which decreased productivity twice as much as did random species in a nearby biodiversity experiment. Tilman has shown in previous research that species loss — i.e. biodiversity loss — has a significant negative impact on biomass productivity.

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