Increased atmospheric deposition of N and S cause a decline in plant biodiversity of heathlands. Concomitant declines of heathland invertebrates are mainly attributed to changes in vegetation composition, while changes in plant chemistry are largely ignored. This article aims to quantify the biochemical pathways of altered autotroph and heterotroph biochemistry. Soil acidity and sod-cutting was found to increase plant N:P ratios, which in turn negatively affected invertebrate density and species richness. These results imply that the role of plant N:P stoichiometry is underestimated in explaining declines of heathland invertebrates. Management should therefore not only focus on restoring habitat structural complexity, but also to restoring biogeochemical soil conditions.
Vogels, J. J., W. C. E. P. Verberk, L. P. M. Lamers & H. Siepel (2017). Can changes in soil biochemistry and plant stoichiometry explain loss of animal diversity of heathlands? Biological conservation 212, Part B:432-447.