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1. Vegetation composition promotes carbon and nitrogen storage in model grassland communities of contrasting soil fertility
Most studies identified the benefits of Plant Functional Group (collections of organisms based on morphological, physiological, behavioral, biochemical, and environmental responses like C3, C4, forbs and legumes ) and plant species for sustaining primary productivity. Few studies have simultaneously explored the benefits of PFG and species richness and composition for delivery of other ecosystem services and their dependency on resource availability. Objectives: We investigated in soils of different fertility the effects of plant species and functional group richness and composition on carbon (C) and nitrogen (N) stocks in vegetation, soil and soil microbes and on CO2 exchange and the loss of C and N from soil through leaching. Experimental design: We established plant communities from a pool of six mesotrophic grassland species belonging to one of three functional groups (C3 grasses, forbs and legumes) in two soils of contrasting fertility. We varied species richness using one, two, three or six species and one, two or three functional groups. Results and discussion: After 2 years, vegetation C and N and soil microbial biomass were greater in the more fertile soil and increased signi¿cantly with greater numbers of plant species and functional group richness. The positive effect of plant diversity on vegetation C and N coincided with reduced loss of water and N through leaching, which was especially governed by forbs, and increased rates of net ecosystem CO2 exchange. Soil C and N pools were not affected by the number of plant species or functional group richness per se after 2 years, but were enhanced by the presence and biomass of the legumes Lotus corniculatus and Trifolium repens. Conclusion: Findings indicate that changes in plant species and functional group richness inÀuence the storage and loss of both C and N in model grassland communities but that these responses are related to the presence and biomass of certain plant species, notably N fixers and forbs. Our results therefore suggest that the co-occurrence of species from specific functional groups is crucial for the maintenance of multi-functionality with respect to C and N storage in grasslands.
2. Microbial contributions to climate change through carbon cycle feedbacks
There is considerable interest in understanding the biological mechanisms that regulate carbon exchanges between the land and atmosphere, and how these exchanges respond to climate change. An understanding of soil microbial ecology is central to our ability to assess
but the complexity of the soil microbial community and the many ways that it can be affected by climate and other global changes hampers our ability to draw firm conclusions on this topic.terrestrial carbon cycle±climate feedbacks. we highlight the need for a multifactor experimental approach to understand how soil microbes and their activities respond to climate change and consequences for carbon cycle feedbacks. we argue that to understand the potential negative and positive contributions of soil microbes to land±atmosphere carbon exchange and global warming requires explicit consideration of both direct and indirect impacts of climate change on microorganisms. and the influence of other global changes which have the capacity to amplify climate-driven effects on soil microbes. In particular. Moreover. we argue that this requires consideration of complex interactions and feedbacks that occur between microbes. Overall. plants and their physical environment in the context of climate change. and identify some challenges for the future. . we emphasize the urgent need for greater understanding of how soil microbial ecology contributes to land±atmosphere carbon exchange in the context of climate change. Objectives: In this paper.
hampers our ability to draw firm conclusions on this topic. fire and leaching. c. In addition we identified three major challenges. which need to be considered to determine the local carbon sequestration potential. and the function of these non-cultivable microbes is poorly understood because it is difficult to test how they respond to. we show direct and indirect plant trait effects on soil carbon input and output through autotrophs and heterotrophs. their environment. which incorporate consideration of direct and indirect impacts of climate change on soil microbes and their contribution to land±atmosphere carbon exchange. measured at the whole ecosystem scale. or modify. and a major challenge is to understand the complexity of this carbon and how climate change and its interaction with other environmental factors affects its availability to enzymes that catalyze its degradation. Discussion: First. The major hurdle here is that many microbes are uncultivable. Progress can be made through the use of long-term multifactor field experiments in relevant biomes. Diversity of carbon substrates in soil is considerable. pathogens and parasites. stabilization and release of carbon from soil as greenhouse gas. coupled with the myriad of ways that climate and other global changes can affect soil microbes. its transfer and storage in belowground biomass. However. Objectives: We present a mechanistic framework. and one of the greatest challenges concerns understanding how microbial diversity responds to climate change and the functional consequences of this for ecosystem carbon exchange. including soil carbon storage which is a key component of the global carbon cycle. Understanding the effects of climate change on carbon dynamics therefore requires explicit consideration of the feedbacks that occur between aboveground and belowground communities and their response to climate change. b. and through modification of abiotic conditions.Conclusions: An understanding of soil microbial ecology is central to our ability to assess terrestrial carbon cycle±climate feedbacks. 3. including the uptake. a. based on the plant traits that drive soil carbon inputs and outputs. Soil microbes and their activities are inextricably linked to aboveground communities. However. including plants. herbivores. for understanding how alteration of vegetation composition will affect soil carbon sequestration under global changes. our mechanistic understanding of these processes is incomplete. soil microbial communities are extremely diverse. Plant Functional Traits and Soil Carbon Sequestration in Contrasting Biomes Plant functional traits control a variety of terrestrial ecosystem processes. Plant traits regulate net soil carbon storage by controlling carbon assimilation. and its release from soil through respiration. the complexity of the soil microbial community and its many roles. Plant traits .
that regulate soil carbon sequestration can be broadly divided into those that alter carbon input to soil. we explore how the composition of key plant traits and soil biota related to carbon input. ¿re and leaching (Fig. Plant traits and soil carbon input and output: Second. release and storage prevail in different biomes across the globe. and those that control carbon loss from soil via respiration. volatilization of organic compounds (VOC). 1). We discuss these mechanisms with special focus on interactions between traits of plants and soil biota that inÀuence the balance between input and output of soil carbon. and address the biome- . through primary productivity and belowground carbon allocation.
4.) . Ecosystem Properties and Forest Decline in Contrasting Long-Term Chronosequences (Chronosequence: A sequence of related soils that differ from one another in certain properties primarily as a result of time as a soil-forming factor. We propose that a trait-based approach will help to develop strategies to preserve and promote carbon sequestration.specific mechanisms by which plant trait composition may impact on soil carbon sequestration.
indicating increasing phosphorus limitation over time. the decline phase was associated with a reduction in tree basal area and an increase in the substrate nitrogen±to-phosphorus ratio. . We studied six long-term chronosequences. in Australia. a decline phase eventually follows. for each. temperate.During succession. Our findings suggest that the maximal biomass phase reached during succession cannot be maintained in the long-term absence of major disturbance. Sweden. and biomass and activity of decomposer microbes. and that similar patterns of decline occur in forested ecosystems spanning the tropical. Alaska. Hawaii. and New Zealand. phosphorus release from litter. ecosystem development occurs. but in the long-term absence of catastrophic disturbance. and boreal zones. These changes were often associated with reductions in litter decomposition rates.
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