Ecology and Evolution
Wiley Open Access
Plant–soil feedbacks (PSFs) have gained attention for their potential role in explaining plant growth and invasion. While promising, most PSF research has measured plant monoculture growth on different soils in short-term, greenhouse experiments. Here, five soil types were conditioned by growing one native species, three non-native species, or a mixed plant community in different plots in a common-garden experiment. After 4 years, plants were removed and one native and one non-native plant community were planted into replicate plots of each soil type. After three additional years, the percentage cover of each of the three target species in each community was measured. These data were used to parameterize a plant community growth model. Model predictions were compared to native and non-native abundance on the landscape. Native community cover was lowest on soil conditioned by the dominant non-native, Centaurea diffusa, and non-native community cover was lowest on soil cultivated by the dominant native, Pseudoroegneria spicata. Consistent with plant growth on the landscape, the plant growth model predicted that the positive PSFs observed in the common-garden experiment would result in two distinct communities on the landscape: a native plant community on native soils and a non-native plant community on non-native soils. In contrast, when PSF effects were removed, the model predicted that non-native plants would dominate all soils, which was not consistent with plant growth on the landscape. Results provide an example where PSF effects were large enough to change the rank-order abundance of native and non-native plant communities and to explain plant distributions on the landscape. The positive PSFs that contributed to this effect reflected the ability of the two dominant plant species to suppress each other’s growth. Results suggest that plant dominance, at least in this system, reflects the ability of a species to suppress the growth of dominant competitors through soil-mediated effects.
Kulmatiski, Andrew, "Community-Level Plant–Soil Feedbacks Explain Landscape Distribution of Native and Non-Native Plants" (2018). Wildland Resources Faculty Publications. Paper 2634.