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Beyond plant-soil feedbacks: mechanisms driving plant community shifts due to land-use legacies in post-agricultural forests

Eduardo de la Pena UGent, Lander Baeten UGent, Hanne Steel UGent, Nicole Viaene UGent, Nancy De Sutter, An De Schrijver UGent and Kris Verheyen UGent (2016) FUNCTIONAL ECOLOGY. 30(7). p.1073-1085
abstract
Although biotic legacies of past agricultural practices are widespread and increasing in contemporary ecosystems, our understanding of the mechanisms driving such legacies is still poor. Forest understories on former agricultural land show low frequencies and abundance of typical woodland species when compared with ancient forests. These community shifts have been ascribed to the effects of dispersal limitation. A rarely considered mechanism is that post-dispersal processes driven by plant-associated communities determine the poor performance and recruitment of woodland indicators. Given the strong alterations in soil conditions due to former agricultural practices, we hypothesized that (abiotic) plant-soil feedbacks could be a major factor in community shifts. We addressed this hypothesis by comparing plant-associated communities in the soil and above the ground in ancient and post-agricultural alluvial forests; then, we experimentally tested whether the changes in biotic and abiotic soil properties could affect above-ground herbivore abundance and pressure and plant performance. Ancient and post-agricultural communities clearly differed in composition at different levels of the food web. Besides the plant community, we also observed the differences in the microbial and nematode community with increased abundance of root-feeding nematodes in post-agricultural soils. The composition of the above-ground invertebrate community did not differ in ancient and post-agricultural forest parcels; however, plants growing in post-agricultural sites showed higher abundance of invertebrate herbivores and suffered more herbivory. Nutrient analyses of soil and plants showed that increased levels of phosphorus (and to a lesser extent, nitrogen) made plants more nutritious for insect herbivores. Laboratory experiments further pointed to this mechanism as an explanation of the poorer performance of woodland indicators in post-agricultural woodlands. Our results point to biotic and abiotic plant-soil feedbacks coupled with herbivory as a new mechanism to explain the legacy effects in temperate forests. The modification of the below-ground community and soil abiotic characteristics by previous agricultural activity affects not only the plant growth but also the plant nutrient content in the compared understorey species, making them more susceptible to above-ground herbivory. Our results provide one of the first examples of integrating plant-soil feedback and above- and below-ground interactions to explain land-use legacies.
Please use this url to cite or link to this publication:
author
organization
year
type
journalArticle (original)
publication status
published
subject
keyword
phosphorus, old fields, secondary succession, woodlands, USE HISTORY, NITROGEN DEPOSITION, INSECT HERBIVORY, URTICA-DIOICA, COLONIZATION, PHOSPHORUS, NEMATODE, RECRUITMENT, LIMITATION, UNDERSTORY, herbivory, nitrogen, diversity loss, community assembly, above-ground-below-ground interactions
journal title
FUNCTIONAL ECOLOGY
Funct. Ecol.
volume
30
issue
7
pages
1073 - 1085
Web of Science type
Review
Web of Science id
000379978100007
JCR category
ECOLOGY
JCR impact factor
5.63 (2016)
JCR rank
14/153 (2016)
JCR quartile
1 (2016)
ISSN
0269-8463
DOI
10.1111/1365-2435.12672
language
English
UGent publication?
yes
classification
A1
copyright statement
I have transferred the copyright for this publication to the publisher
id
8055443
handle
http://hdl.handle.net/1854/LU-8055443
date created
2016-08-26 14:12:42
date last changed
2016-12-19 15:41:05
@article{8055443,
  abstract     = {Although biotic legacies of past agricultural practices are widespread and increasing in contemporary ecosystems, our understanding of the mechanisms driving such legacies is still poor. Forest understories on former agricultural land show low frequencies and abundance of typical woodland species when compared with ancient forests. These community shifts have been ascribed to the effects of dispersal limitation. A rarely considered mechanism is that post-dispersal processes driven by plant-associated communities determine the poor performance and recruitment of woodland indicators. Given the strong alterations in soil conditions due to former agricultural practices, we hypothesized that (abiotic) plant-soil feedbacks could be a major factor in community shifts. We addressed this hypothesis by comparing plant-associated communities in the soil and above the ground in ancient and post-agricultural alluvial forests; then, we experimentally tested whether the changes in biotic and abiotic soil properties could affect above-ground herbivore abundance and pressure and plant performance. Ancient and post-agricultural communities clearly differed in composition at different levels of the food web. Besides the plant community, we also observed the differences in the microbial and nematode community with increased abundance of root-feeding nematodes in post-agricultural soils. The composition of the above-ground invertebrate community did not differ in ancient and post-agricultural forest parcels; however, plants growing in post-agricultural sites showed higher abundance of invertebrate herbivores and suffered more herbivory. Nutrient analyses of soil and plants showed that increased levels of phosphorus (and to a lesser extent, nitrogen) made plants more nutritious for insect herbivores. Laboratory experiments further pointed to this mechanism as an explanation of the poorer performance of woodland indicators in post-agricultural woodlands. Our results point to biotic and abiotic plant-soil feedbacks coupled with herbivory as a new mechanism to explain the legacy effects in temperate forests. The modification of the below-ground community and soil abiotic characteristics by previous agricultural activity affects not only the plant growth but also the plant nutrient content in the compared understorey species, making them more susceptible to above-ground herbivory. Our results provide one of the first examples of integrating plant-soil feedback and above- and below-ground interactions to explain land-use legacies.},
  author       = {de la Pena, Eduardo and Baeten, Lander and Steel, Hanne and Viaene, Nicole and De Sutter, Nancy and De Schrijver, An and Verheyen, Kris},
  issn         = {0269-8463},
  journal      = {FUNCTIONAL ECOLOGY},
  keyword      = {phosphorus,old fields,secondary succession,woodlands,USE HISTORY,NITROGEN DEPOSITION,INSECT HERBIVORY,URTICA-DIOICA,COLONIZATION,PHOSPHORUS,NEMATODE,RECRUITMENT,LIMITATION,UNDERSTORY,herbivory,nitrogen,diversity loss,community assembly,above-ground-below-ground interactions},
  language     = {eng},
  number       = {7},
  pages        = {1073--1085},
  title        = {Beyond plant-soil feedbacks: mechanisms driving plant community shifts due to land-use legacies in post-agricultural forests},
  url          = {http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/1365-2435.12672},
  volume       = {30},
  year         = {2016},
}

Chicago
de la Pena, Eduardo, Lander Baeten, Hanne Steel, Nicole Viaene, Nancy De Sutter, An De Schrijver, and Kris Verheyen. 2016. “Beyond Plant-soil Feedbacks: Mechanisms Driving Plant Community Shifts Due to Land-use Legacies in Post-agricultural Forests.” Functional Ecology 30 (7): 1073–1085.
APA
de la Pena, E., Baeten, L., Steel, H., Viaene, N., De Sutter, N., De Schrijver, A., & Verheyen, K. (2016). Beyond plant-soil feedbacks: mechanisms driving plant community shifts due to land-use legacies in post-agricultural forests. FUNCTIONAL ECOLOGY, 30(7), 1073–1085.
Vancouver
1.
de la Pena E, Baeten L, Steel H, Viaene N, De Sutter N, De Schrijver A, et al. Beyond plant-soil feedbacks: mechanisms driving plant community shifts due to land-use legacies in post-agricultural forests. FUNCTIONAL ECOLOGY. 2016;30(7):1073–85.
MLA
de la Pena, Eduardo, Lander Baeten, Hanne Steel, et al. “Beyond Plant-soil Feedbacks: Mechanisms Driving Plant Community Shifts Due to Land-use Legacies in Post-agricultural Forests.” FUNCTIONAL ECOLOGY 30.7 (2016): 1073–1085. Print.