A global dataset of phosphorus addition experiments in terrestrial ecosystems

  • Enqing Hou (Contributor)
  • Yiqi Luo (Contributor)
  • Yuanwen Kuang (Contributor)
  • Chengrong Chen (Contributor)
  • Xiankai Lu (Contributor)
  • Lifen Jiang (Contributor)
  • Xianzhen Luo (Contributor)
  • Dazhi Wen (Contributor)



Phosphorus (P) limitation of aboveground plant production is usually assumed to occur in tropical regions but rarely elsewhere. Here we report that P limitation of aboveground plant production is more widespread and much stronger than previously estimated. In our meta-analysis of 652 P-addition field experiments described in 285 published studies, almost half (46.2%) of the experiments reveal a significant P limitation on aboveground plant production. Globally, P additions increase aboveground plant production by 34.9% in natural terrestrial ecosystems, which is 7.0–15.9% higher than that previously suggested. In croplands, in contrast, P additions increase aboveground plant production by only 13.9%; this increase is less than in natural terrestrial ecosystems probably because of historical fertilizations of croplands. The magnitude of P limitation also differs among climate zones and regions, and is evidently driven by climate, ecosystem properties, and fertilization regimes. In addition to confirming that P limitation is widespread in tropical regions, our study also demonstrates that P limitation often occurs in other regions. Our results suggest that previous studies have underestimated the importance of altered P supply on aboveground plant production in natural terrestrial ecosystems. Paper on this dataset is, in principle,accepted for publication in Nature Communications (updated 18th December, 2019).
Date made available2019

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