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Plant species composition effects on belowground properties and the resistance and resilience of the soil microflora to a drying disturbance.

Orwin, Kate H. and Wardle, David A. (2005) Plant species composition effects on belowground properties and the resistance and resilience of the soil microflora to a drying disturbance. Plant and Soil, 278 (1-2). pp. 205-221. ISSN 0032-079X

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Abstract

We hypothesised that plant species composition and richness would affect soil chemical and microbial community properties, and that these in turn would affect soil microbial resistance and resilience to an experimentally imposed drying disturbance. We performed a container experiment that manipulated the composition and species richness of common pasture plant species (Trifolium repens, Lolium perenne, and Plantago lanceolata) by growing them in monoculture, and in all the possible two and three-way combinations, along with an unplanted control soil. Experimental units were harvested at four different times over a 16-month period to determine the effect of plant community development and seasonal changes in temperature and moisture on belowground properties. Results showed that plant species composition influenced soil chemistry, soil microbial community properties and soil microbial resistance and resilience. Soil from planted treatments generally showed reduced soil microbial resistance to drying compared to unplanted control soils. Soils from under T. repens showed a higher resistance and resilience than the soils from under P. lanceolata, and a higher resistance than soils from under L. perenne. We suggest that differences across soils in either resource limitation or soil microbial community structure may be responsible for these results. Plant species richness rarely affected soil microbial community properties or soil microbial resistance and resilience, despite having some significant effects on plant community biomass and soil nitrogen contents in some harvests. The effect that treatments had for most variables differed between harvests, suggesting that results can be altered by the stage of plant community development or by extrinsic environmental factors that varied with harvest timing. These results in combination show that soil microbial resistance and resilience was affected by plant community composition, and the time of measurement, but was largely unrelated to plant species richness.

Item Type: Article
Journal or Publication Title: Plant and Soil
Uncontrolled Keywords: diversity - plant community composition - resilience - resistance - soil microflora - stability
Subjects: Q Science > QH Natural history > QH301 Biology
Departments: Faculty of Science and Technology > Lancaster Environment Centre
ID Code: 10403
Deposited By: Dr Kate Orwin
Deposited On: 14 Jul 2008 10:15
Refereed?: Yes
Published?: Published
Last Modified: 17 Sep 2013 10:50
Identification Number:
URI: http://eprints.lancs.ac.uk/id/eprint/10403

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