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The current climate warming enables many native plants to expand ranges to higher altitudes and latitudes. Plants develop in close interaction with soil organisms in a direct (e.g. via pathogenesis) and indirect way (e.g. via the detritus food web). During range shifts, these specific plant-soil interactions might become temporally disrupted since soil organisms have limited dispersal capacity. Consequently, range-expanding plants are expected to benefit from the release of soil-borne pathogens and suffer from losing positive interactions with specialized decomposer organisms. The present research aims to study local specialization by decomposers of range-shifting plant species along latitudinal gradients and determine whether specialization results in ‘home field advantage’. We tested the hypothesis that soil microbial communities from the native range have higher affinity with litter of range-expanding plants than communities in the new range. We collected senesced leaves and soil of two range-expanding plants (Centaurea stoebe and Lactuca serriola) and a native congener (Centaurea jacea) in the native and expansion range. We set up a 97-day microcosm incubation experiment for each plant species. Litter was reciprocally transplanted to all soils within and between ranges and we measured CO2 fluxes over the incubation period. Soil heterotrophic respiration response to litter addition was used as a proxy for decomposition activity. We found that soil and litter origin had the strongest effect on soil heterotrophic respiration for all 3 plant species, whereas no local specialization effect was observed in litter transplants within or between ranges. High within-range variability suggested that litter decomposition controls operate at a highly local scale.
|Publication status||Published - 2015|
|Event||Rhizosphere 4 - Maastricht, Netherlands|
Duration: 21 Jun 2015 → 25 Jun 2015
|Period||21/06/15 → 25/06/15|