Greenhouse- and Field-Measured Plant-Soil Feedbacks Are Not Correlated
Plant-soil feedbacks (PSFs) have become a commonly invoked mechanism of plant coexistence and abundance. Yet, most PSF experiments have been performed in greenhouse conditions. To test whether or not greenhouse-measured PSF values are of similar magnitude and positively correlated with field-measured PSFs, we compared PSF values from five different studies that measured PSF values in both greenhouse and field conditions. For 36 plant species, greenhouse-measured PSF values were larger than and not positively correlated with field-measured PSF values. Similarly, these 36 species produced 269 soil-specific PSF values, and for each site there was no positive correlation between these greenhouse- and field-measured PSF values. While PSFs were observed in both greenhouse and field conditions, results provided no support at the soil, site or species level that a positive correlation exists between greenhouse- and field-measured PSF. Further, greenhouse-measured PSF appear to overestimate field-measured PSF. Although from five studies, results strongly suggest that field experiments are needed to understand the role of PSFs in plant communities in natural settings.