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Overstory and understory vegetation interact to alter soil community composition and activity

Mitchell, Ruth Joy; Keith, Aidan M.; Potts, Jackie M.; Ross, Jasmine; Reid, Eileen; Dawson, Lorna A.. 2012 Overstory and understory vegetation interact to alter soil community composition and activity. Plant and Soil, 352 (1-2). 65-84. 10.1007/s11104-011-0980-y

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Abstract/Summary

Aim: To test if there is an interactive effect between tree and understory species on the soil microbial community (SMC), community level physiological profiles (CLPP) and soil micro-fauna. Method: A replicate pot experiment with five sapling tree species (Betula pendula, Betula pubescens, Sorbus aucuparia, Quercus petraea and Pinus sylvestris) and a no-tree treatment with and without Calluna vulgaris was established. After 21 months samples were taken for phospholipid fatty acid (PLFA) analysis, CLPP and soil microfauna assessment. Results: There was an interactive effect of tree species and Calluna on the SMC, CLPP and nematode densities. Calluna addition changed the SMC composition (increase in fungal PLFAs) and the CLPP (lower utilisation of most carbon sources but greater utilisation of phenolic acids). A multivariate test for homogeneity of dispersion showed that while Calluna addition resulted in the presence of an altered microbial composition, it did not result in there being less variability among the samples with Calluna than among the samples without Calluna. Sapling trees with Calluna present grew less well than trees without Calluna. Structural equation modelling showed that it is possible that Calluna had an indirect effect on the SMC via below-ground tree biomass as well as a direct effect. Conclusion: Interactions between trees and understory vegetation can impact on the composition of soil biota and their activity.

Item Type: Publication - Article
Digital Object Identifier (DOI): 10.1007/s11104-011-0980-y
Programmes: CEH Topics & Objectives 2009 - 2012 > Biodiversity > BD Topic 2 - Ecological Processes in the Environment > BD - 2.1 - Interactions ... structure ecosystems and their functioning
CEH Sections: Parr
ISSN: 0032-079X
Additional Information. Not used in RCUK Gateway to Research.: This document is the author’s final manuscript version of the journal article, incorporating any revisions agreed during the peer review process. Some differences between this and the publisher’s version remain. You are advised to consult the publisher’s version if you wish to cite from this article. The final publication is available at link.springer.com
Additional Keywords: carbon utilisation, community level physiological profile, enchytraeids, foundation species, nematode, plant-soil interaction, PLFA, structural equation modelling
NORA Subject Terms: Biology and Microbiology
Ecology and Environment
Date made live: 21 Dec 2011 09:38
URI: http://nora.nerc.ac.uk/id/eprint/12400

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