Rapid transitions in coupled above-below-ground community dynamics

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Researchers

Yvonne Buchholz and Britta Tietjen, in cooperation with Stefanie Maaß and Florian Jeltsch

Abstract

Plant-soil feedbacks (PSF) are assumed to modify biodiversity patterns, ecosystem functions, and the resulting ecosystem services across temporal and spatial scales.

Within the framework of Bridging in Biodiversity Science (BIBS) we aim at assessing the effect of PSF processes on above- and below-ground communities through a mechanistic understanding of the plant-soil continuum's complex dynamics. In particular we will look at: the influence of root traits on soil communities via their impact on soil properties, the possible linkage of the respective traits, and the influence of changes in this trait composition on plant-soil feedback loops.

For this purpose, we will extend the small-scale individual-based community (IBC) grass model that explicitly simulates the fate of individual plants by a PSF sub-model based on additional traits related to below-ground processes. With this we intend to assess the effect of plant-soil feedback processes on trait composition and performance of plant communities and vice versa. Therefore, the model will be able to simulate the full feedbacks between plant and soil communities and to assess shifts in trait composition as a result of these feedbacks. This will further our understanding of the plant-soil continuum's resistance and resilience to environmental and land use changes.