Plant-Soil Feedback and the Maintenance of Diversity in Mediterranean-Climate Shrublands

TitlePlant-Soil Feedback and the Maintenance of Diversity in Mediterranean-Climate Shrublands
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication2017
AuthorsTeste FP, Kardol P, Turner BL, Wardle DA, Zemunik G, Renton M, Laliberté E
JournalScience
Volume355
Pagination173-176
Date Published01/2017
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.