Scientists at the University of Sheffield have found that plants are able to co-exist because they share key nutrients, using grasslands from the Peak District.
In a study published in Nature Plants, the team investigated how some ecosystems can have high biodiversity when all of these plants are competing for the same nutrients. They looked especially at ecosystems which are high in biodiversity but low in phosphorus, an essential nutrient for plant growth.
To do this they used soil taken from Peak District limestone grassland which is low in phosphorus. They then injected different types of phosphorus into the soil which allowed them to track which plants took up which type of phosphorus.
Their findings show that plants are able to share out the phosphorus by each preferring to take it up in a different form. This sharing is known as resource partitioning. MORE
Header image: University of Sheffield.