Staff Publications

Staff Publications

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    'Staff publications' is the digital repository of Wageningen University & Research

    'Staff publications' contains references to publications authored by Wageningen University staff from 1976 onward.

    Publications authored by the staff of the Research Institutes are available from 1995 onwards.

    Full text documents are added when available. The database is updated daily and currently holds about 240,000 items, of which 72,000 in open access.

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Record number 507503
Title Spatially heterogeneous plant-soil feedbacks promote plant diversity and hamper monocultures
Author(s) Wubs, E.R.J.; Bezemer, T.M.
Event 46th Annual Meeting of the Ecological Society of Germany, Austria and Switzerland, 2016-09-05/2016-09-09
Department(s) Laboratory of Nematology
Laboratory of Entomology
Publication type Poster (scientific)
Publication year 2016
Abstract Plant-soil feedback (PSF) studies have become a central component of our
understanding of many terrestrial plant community processes. Recent work has
shown that spatially interacting PSFs can strongly influence the plant performance. However, emperical data on the role of the spatial scale (grain) of PSF heterogeneity is lacking. In a greenhouse experiment we placed soils with different PSF in patches in fine- (6x6cm patches), coarse-grained (12x12cm) and spatially homogeneous treatments. Monocultures and mixtures of six common grassland species were planted on the soil treatments. We tested how the grain of spatial heterogeneity affected plant performance both with intra- and interspecific competitors. Spatial PSF heterogeneity had pronounced effects on plant performance. For monocultures performance was reduced in the heterogeneous PSF treatments (~10% reduction in biomass). Although the strenght of the effect of PSF heterogeneity varied across test species and soil conditioning, most were negative. When grown in plant mixtures, however, spatial heterogeneity seemed to offer refuge from antagonists for at least some species, as their direct PSF changed from strongly negative to neutral or even positive in the fine scale heterogeneity treatment. We conclude that spatial PSF heterogeneity strongly affects plant performance, particularly in interspecific competition. We think that both the likelihood of encountering patches with strong direct and/or indirect PSF as well as the potential rate of transmission of antagonistic effects (e.g. pathogen infection) importantly determine plant performance in competitive mixtures. While theory seems to hold up in some instances, however, in many cases the responses remained poorly predictable. Consequently, there is a need for studying plant-soil interactions in space and to do so by mimicing field conditions in more realistic ways.
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