The Nutrient Network
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An international network of scientists using consistent protocols to create comparable datasets, exploring nutrient and herbivory impacts on grassland biodiversity. This appears to be an effective model for collaborative science.
Two of the most pervasive human impacts on ecosystems are alteration of global nutrient budgets and changes in the abundance and identity of consumers. Fossil fuel combustion and agricultural fertilization have doubled and quintupled, respectively, global pools of nitrogen and phosphorus relative to pre-industrial levels. Concurrently, habitat loss and degradation and selective hunting and fishing disproportionately remove consumers from food webs. At the same time, humans are adding consumers to food webs for endpoints such as conservation, recreation, and agriculture, as well as accidental introductions of invasive consumer species. In spite of the global impacts of these human activities, there have been no globally coordinated experiments to quantify the general impacts on ecological systems. The Nutrient Network (NutNet) is a grassroots research effort to address these questions within a coordinated research network comprised of more than 130 grassland sites worldwide.