Park Grass open access data
Park Grass mean species numbers over time
Last updated 11/02/2016
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This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.
YOU MUST CITE AS: Rothamsted Research (2016). Park Grass changes in species number over time. Electronic Rothamsted Archive https://doi.org/10.23637/KeyRefOAPGspecies.
Click the chart above for a pdf version.Summary data used for this chart is available to download as an Excel Spreadsheet: Species data and treatments.
This summary data is derived from annual plot data for the relevant selected plots and treatments. The original raw data is available, after registering, from the e-RA database. Contact the e-RA curators to arrange a password.
The Figure shows the impact of selected treatments on the number of species comprising 1% or more of the biomass. Applying N as sodium nitrate (orange line N*) or ammonium sulphate (blue line N) quickly decreased species numbers relative to the unfertilised control. The continued application of ammonium decreases species numbers further because of its acidifying effect on the soil (pH 3.6 in 2011, solid blue line), reducing the number of species to one or two, Holcus lanatus (Yorkshire Fog) and Anthoxanthum odoratum (Sweet Vernal Grass). However, even on the nil plot (solid green line) the number of species has decreased. This may be due to changes in atmospheric inputs and/or changes in sward management.
Applying chalk (dotted lines) increased soil pH (pH 6.2 in 2011, dotted blue line) and helped some of the species return to the original numbers.
Recent work (Storkey et al 2015) showed that on some plots withholding N helped increase species diversity as did decreased atmospheric N deposition, as evident in the species numbers of the nil plot (solid green line).
Fertiliser treatments since 1856;
No fertiliser - Plot 3: No fertilizer or manure
N*2PKNaMg - Plot 14: 96kgN as sodium nitrate plus P,K,Na and Mg
N2PKNaMg - Plot 9: 96kgN as ammonium sulphate plus P, K, Na and Mg
Chalk: Ground chalk (CaCO3) applied approximately every four years 1903 - 1964 then as required to maintain pH at around 6.
Park grass long-term experiment
For further information about the experiment, see Park Grass Experiment. For more information about species diversity on Park Grass, refer to the Key References below.
Further details can be obtained from the e-RA Curators and the Rothamsted Guide to the Classical Experiments (2006) pp 20-31.
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- Storkey, J. , Macdonald, A. J. , Poulton, P. R. , Scott, T. , Kohler, I. H. , Schnyder, H. , Goulding, K. W. T. and Crawley, M. J. (2015) "Grassland biodiversity bounces back from long-term nitrogen addition", Nature , 528, 401-4
- von Wettberg, E. J. B. , Vance, W. and Rowland, D. L. (2014) "The Park Grass Experiment and next-generation approaches: local adaptation of sweet vernal grass revisited", Molecular Ecology, 23, 5931-5933
- Silvertown, J. , Poulton, P. R. , Johnston, A., E. , Edwards, G. , Heard, M. and Biss, P. M. (2006) "The Park Grass Experiment 1856-2006: Its contribution to ecology", Journal of Ecology, 94, 801-814
- Crawley, M. J. , Johnston, A. E. , Silvertown, J. , Dodd, M. , de Mazancourt, C. , Heard, M. S. , Henman, D. F. and Edwards, G. R. (2005) "Determinants of species richness in the Park Grass experiment", American Naturalist, 165, 179-192
- Blake, L. and Goulding, K. W. T. (2002) "Effects of atmospheric deposition, soil pH and acidification on heavy metal contents in soils and vegetation of semi-natural ecosystems at Rothamsted Experimental Station, UK", Plant and Soil, 240, 235-251
- Blake, L. , Goulding, K. W. T. , Johnston, A. E. and Mott, C. J. B. (1999) "Changes in soil chemistry accompanying acidification over more than 100 years under woodland and grass at Rothamsted Experimental Station, UK", European Journal of Soil Science, 50, 401-412
- Kunin, W. E. (1998) "Biodiversity at the edge: A test, of the importance of spatial "mass effects" in the Rothamsted Park Grass experiments", Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America, 95, 207-212
- Dodd, M. , Silvertown, J. , McConway, K. , Potts, J. and Crawley, M. (1995) "Community Stability - a 60-Year Record of Trends and Outbreaks in the Occurrence of Species in the Park Grass Experiment", Journal of Ecology, 83, 277-285
- Jenkinson, D. S. , Potts, J. M. , Perry, J. N. , Barnett, V. , Coleman, K. and Johnston, A. E. (1994) "Trends in Herbage Yields over the Last Century on the Rothamsted Long-Term Continuous Hay Experiment", Journal of Agricultural Science, 122, 365-374
- Williams, E. D. (1978) "Botanical Composition of the Park Grass Plots at Rothamsted 1856 - 1976", Rothamsted Experimental Station, Harpenden UK