Changing soil legacies to direct restoration of plant communities

E.P. Brinkman*, Ciska E. Raaijmakers, Wietse De Boer, Wim H. Van Der Putten

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

3 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

It is increasingly acknowledged that soil biota may influence interactions among plant species; however, little is known about how to change historical influences of previous land management on soil biota, the so-called ‘biotic soil legacy effect’. We used a two-phase plant community-soil feedback approach to study how plant species typical to original (i.e. undisturbed) and degraded fen meadows may influence effects of the soil community on Carex species that are dominant in fen meadows. In phase 1, soil from original, degraded, successfully and unsuccessfully restored fen meadows was conditioned by growing plants typical to original or to degraded fen meadows. In phase 2, interactions between Carex and neighbouring plant species were studied to quantify plant community-soil feedback effects in different neighbour plant mixtures. Soil conditioning with plants typical to original fen meadows resulted in significantly more Carex biomass than with plants typical to degraded fen meadows. These effects were strongest when the soil originated from unsuccessfully restored fen meadows. However, biomass of plants typical of degraded fen meadows was also higher in soil conditioned by typical fen meadow plants. We conclude that soil legacy effects of plants from degraded fen meadows can be altered by growing typical fen meadow plant species in that soil, as this enhances priority effects that favour growth of other typical fen meadow plants. As also plant species from degraded fen meadows benefitted from soil conditioning, further studies are needed to reveal if plant species can be chosen that change negative soil legacy effects for rare and endangered fen meadow plant species, but not for plant species that are typical to degraded fen meadows.
Original languageEnglish
Article numberplx038
JournalAoB Plants
Volume9
Issue number5
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 1 Sep 2017

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