Plant functional trait shifts explain concurrent changes in the structure and function of grassland soil microbial communities

Boeddinghaus, Runa S.; Marhan, Sven; Berner, Doreen; Boch, Steffen; Fischer, Markus; Hölzel, Norbert; Kattge, Jens; Klaus, Valentin H.; Kleinebecker, Till; Oelmann, Yvonne; Prati, Daniel; Schäfer, Deborah; Schöning, Ingo; Schrumpf, Marion; Sorkau, Elisabeth; Kandeler, Ellen; Manning, Peter (2019). Plant functional trait shifts explain concurrent changes in the structure and function of grassland soil microbial communities. Journal of Ecology, 107(5), pp. 2197-2210. Blackwell 10.1111/1365-2745.13182

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Land‐use intensification drives changes in microbial communities and the soil functions they regulate, but the mechanisms underlying these changes are poorly understood as land use can affect soil communities both directly (e.g. via changes in soil fertility) and indirectly (e.g. via changes in plant inputs). The speed of microbial responses is also poorly understood. For instance, whether it is long‐term legacies or short‐term changes in land‐use intensity that drive changes in microbial communities. To address these topics, we measured multiple microbial functions, bacterial and fungal biomass and abiotic soil properties at two time intervals 3 years apart. This was performed in 150 grassland sites differing greatly in management intensity across three German regions. Observed changes in microbial soil properties were related to both long‐term means and short‐term changes in: abiotic soil properties, land‐use intensity, community abundance‐weighted means of plant functional traits and plant biomass properties in regression and structural equation models. Plant traits, particularly leaf phosphorus, and soil pH were the best predictors of change in soil microbial function, as well as fungal and bacterial biomass, while land‐use intensity showed weaker effects. Indirect legacy effects, in which microbial change was explained by the effects of long‐term land‐use intensity on plant traits, were important, thus indicating a time lag between plant community and microbial change. Whenever the effects of short‐term changes in land‐use intensity were present, they acted directly on soil microorganisms. Synthesis. The results provide new evidence that soil communities and their functioning respond to short‐term changes in land‐use intensity, but that both rapid and longer time‐scale responses to changes in plant functional traits are at least of equal importance. This suggests that management which shapes plant communities may be an effective means of managing soil communities and the functions and services they provide.

Item Type:

Journal Article (Original Article)

Division/Institute:

08 Faculty of Science > Department of Biology > Institute of Plant Sciences (IPS) > Plant Ecology
08 Faculty of Science > Department of Biology > Institute of Plant Sciences (IPS)

UniBE Contributor:

Boch, Steffen; Fischer, Markus; Prati, Daniel; Schäfer, Deborah and Manning, Peter

Subjects:

500 Science > 580 Plants (Botany)

ISSN:

0022-0477

Publisher:

Blackwell

Language:

English

Submitter:

Peter Alfred von Ballmoos-Haas

Date Deposited:

16 Jul 2019 12:22

Last Modified:

23 Oct 2019 21:37

Publisher DOI:

10.1111/1365-2745.13182

Uncontrolled Keywords:

ecosystem function, fast-slow leaf economics spectrum, hierarchical regression, land-use intensity, soil enzyme activities, soil microbial abundance, structural equation models

BORIS DOI:

10.7892/boris.131131

URI:

https://boris.unibe.ch/id/eprint/131131

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