Plant-soil feedback and the maintenance of diversity in Mediterranean-climate shrublands

François P. Teste, Paul Kardol, Benjamin L. Turner, David A. Wardle, Graham Zemunik, Michael Renton, Etienne Laliberté

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

142 Citations (Scopus)
1536 Downloads (Pure)

Abstract

Soil biota influence plant performance through plant-soil feedback, but it is unclear whether the strength of such feedback depends on plant traits and whether plant-soil feedback drives local plant diversity. We grew 16 co-occurring plant species with contrasting nutrient-acquisition strategies from hyperdiverse Australian shrublands and exposed them to soil biota from under their own or other plant species. Plant responses to soil biota varied according to their nutrient-acquisition strategy, including positive feedback for ectomycorrhizal plants and negative feedback for nitrogen-fixing and nonmycorrhizal plants. Simulations revealed that such strategy-dependent feedback is sufficient to maintain the high taxonomic and functional diversity characterizing these Mediterranean-climate shrublands. Our study identifies nutrient-acquisition strategy as a key trait explaining how different plant responses to soil biota promote local plant diversity.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)173-176
Number of pages4
JournalScience
Volume355
Issue number6321
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 13 Jan 2017

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