Climate, soil type, and management practices have been reported as primary limiting factors of gross primary production (GPP). However, the extent to which these factors predict GPP response varies according to scales and land cover classes. Nitrogen (N) deposition has been highlighted as an important driver of primary production in N-limited ecosystems that also have an impact on biodiversity in alpine grasslands. However, the effect of N deposition on GPP response in alpine grasslands hasn’t been studied much at a large scale. These remote areas are characterized by complex topography and extensive management practices with high species richness. Remotely sensed GPP products, weather datasets, and available N deposition maps bring along the opportunity of analyzing how those factors predict GPP in alpine grasslands and compare these results with those obtained in other land cover classes with intensive and mixed management practices. This study aims at (i) analyzing the impact of N deposition and climatic variables (precipitation, sunshine, and temperature) on carbon (C) fixation response in alpine grasslands and (ii) comparing the results obtained in alpine grasslands with those from other land cover classes with different management practices. We stratified the analysis using three land cover classes: Grasslands, croplands, and croplands/natural vegetation mosaic and built multiple linear regression models. In addition, we analyzed the soil characteristics, such as aptitude for croplands, stone content, and water and nutrient storage capacity for each class to interpret the results. In alpine grasslands, explanatory variables explained up to 80% of the GPP response. However, the explanatory performance of the covariates decreased to maximums of 47% in croplands and 19% in croplands/natural vegetation mosaic. Further information will improve our understanding of how N deposition affects GPP response in ecosystems with high and mixed intensity of use management practices, and high species richness. Nevertheless, this study helps to characterize large patterns of GPP response in regions affected by local climatic conditions and different land management patterns. Finally, we highlight the importance of including N deposition in C budget models, while accounting for N dynamics.
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