Plant community composition steers grassland vegetation via soil legacy effects

Robin Heinen*, S.E. Hannula, Jonathan R. De Long, Martine Huberty, Renske Jongen, Anna Kielak, Katja Steinauer, Feng Zhu, T.M. Bezemer

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalLetterAcademicpeer-review

11 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

Soil legacy effects are commonly highlighted as drivers of plant community dynamics and species co-existence. However, experimental evidence for soil legacy effects of conditioning plant communities on responding plant communities under natural conditions is lacking. We conditioned 192 grassland plots using six different plant communities with different ratios of grasses and forbs and for different durations. Soil microbial legacies were evident for soil fungi, but not for soil bacteria, while soil abiotic parameters did not significantly change in response to conditioning. The soil legacies affected the composition of the succeeding vegetation. Plant communities with different ratios of grasses and forbs left soil legacies that negatively affected succeeding plants of the same functional type. We conclude that fungal-mediated soil legacy effects play a significant role in vegetation assembly of natural plant communities.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)973-982
Number of pages10
JournalEcology Letters
Volume23
Issue number6
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jun 2020
Externally publishedYes

Keywords

  • Field experiment
  • grassland
  • pathogens
  • plant-soil feedback
  • soil bacteria
  • soil fungi
  • soil legacy effects
  • soil microbiome

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