Tree diversity effects on soil microbial biomass and respiration are context dependent across forest diversity experiments

Simone Cesarz, Dylan Craven, Harald Auge, Helge Bruelheide, Bastien Castagneyrol, Jessica Gutknecht, Andy Hector, Hervé Jactel, Julia Koricheva, Christian Messier, Bart Muys, Michael J. O’Brien, Alain Paquette, Quentin Ponette, Catherine Potvin, Peter B. Reich, Michael Scherer-Lorenzen, Andrew R. Smith, Kris Verheyen, Nico Eisenhauer

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Scopus citations

Abstract

Aim: Soil microorganisms are essential for the functioning of terrestrial ecosystems. Although soil microbial communities and functions are linked to tree species composition and diversity, there has been no comprehensive study of the generality or context dependence of these relationships. Here, we examine tree diversity–soil microbial biomass and respiration relationships across environmental gradients using a global network of tree diversity experiments. Location: Boreal, temperate, subtropical and tropical forests. Time period: 2013. Major taxa studied: Soil microorganisms. Methods: Soil samples collected from 11 tree diversity experiments were used to measure microbial respiration, biomass and respiratory quotient using the substrate-induced respiration method. All samples were measured using the same analytical device, method and procedure to reduce measurement bias. We used linear mixed-effects models and principal components analysis (PCA) to examine the effects of tree diversity (taxonomic and phylogenetic), environmental conditions and interactions on soil microbial properties. Results: Abiotic drivers, mainly soil water content, but also soil carbon and soil pH, significantly increased soil microbial biomass and respiration. High soil water content reduced the importance of other abiotic drivers. Tree diversity had no effect on the soil microbial properties, but interactions with phylogenetic diversity indicated that the effects of diversity were context dependent and stronger in drier soils. Similar results were found for soil carbon and soil pH. Main conclusions: Our results indicate the importance of abiotic variables, especially soil water content, for maintaining high levels of soil microbial functions and modulating the effects of other environmental drivers. Planting tree species with diverse water-use strategies and structurally complex canopies and high leaf area might be crucial for maintaining high soil microbial biomass and respiration. Given that greater phylogenetic distance alleviated unfavourable soil water conditions, reforestation efforts that account for traits improving soil water content or select more phylogenetically distant species might assist in increasing soil microbial functions.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)872-885
Number of pages14
JournalGlobal Ecology and Biogeography
Volume31
Issue number5
DOIs
StatePublished - May 2022

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
BEF‐China was funded by the German Research Foundation (DFG FOR 891/1‐3).

Funding Information:
The SATAKUNTA Experiment has been established by the University of Turku with funding from the Academy of Finland. We are grateful to Dr Kai Ruohomäki from the Department of Biology, University of Turku for help with the establishment and maintenance of the experiment.

Funding Information:
The German Centre for Integrative Biodiversity Research (iDiv) Halle-Jena-Leipzig is funded by the German Research Foundation (DFG FZT 118). D.C. acknowledges funding from the Agencia Nacional de Investigaci?n y Desarrollo (Chile; FONDECYT Regular No. 1201347). The contribution of P.B.R. was supported by the U.S. National Science Foundation.?Biological Integration Institutes (grant DBI-2021898). We thank Alfred Lochner, Anja Zeuner and Silke Schroeckh for measuring soil abiotic variables and support with respiration measurements. We thank Guillaume Patoine for screening the TreeDivNet network and the TRY database for trait data. BEF-China was funded by the German Research Foundation (DFG FOR 891/1-3). The BIOTREE experiment in Bechstedt has been established by the Max-Planck-Institute for Biogeochemistry, Jena, Germany, and we are grateful to Professor Dr Ernst-Detlef Schulze for initiating and supporting this project. BIOTREE receives basic funding through the Chair of Geobotany, Faculty of Biology, University of Freiburg. The BIOTREE site in Bechstedt is maintained by the Federal Forestry Office Th?ringer Wald (Bundesforstamt Th?ringer Wald). FORBIO was partly supported by the Walloon forest service (SPW-DNF), through the 5-year ?Accord-cadre de recherche et de vulgarisation foresti?res? programme. The Kreinitz Experiment has been funded by the Helmholtz Centre for Environmental Research ? UFZ. We are grateful to the many colleagues who have assisted with the establishment and maintenance of the experiment and who are too numerous to be listed. In particular, we acknowledge the Departments of Community Ecology and the team of the Bad Lauchst?dt field station of the UFZ. Sardinilla has been managed mainly by Jos? Monteza, the site manager, with support from Lady Mancilla and their fieldworkers. Financial support came also from the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute and Discovery grants from the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada to C.P. The SATAKUNTA Experiment has been established by the University of Turku with funding from the Academy of Finland. We are grateful to Dr Kai Ruohom?ki from the Department of Biology, University of Turku for help with the establishment and maintenance of the experiment. The SABAH Biodiversity Experiment has been supported by The University of Zurich, the UK Natural Environmental Research Council and the South East Asian Rainforest Partnership. Open access funding was enabled and organized by ProjektDEAL. Open access funding enabled and organized by ProjektDEAL.

Funding Information:
FORBIO was partly supported by the Walloon forest service (SPW‐DNF), through the 5‐year “Accord‐cadre de recherche et de vulgarisation forestières” programme.

Funding Information:
The SABAH Biodiversity Experiment has been supported by The University of Zurich, the UK Natural Environmental Research Council and the South East Asian Rainforest Partnership. Open access funding was enabled and organized by ProjektDEAL. Open access funding enabled and organized by ProjektDEAL.

Funding Information:
Sardinilla has been managed mainly by José Monteza, the site manager, with support from Lady Mancilla and their fieldworkers. Financial support came also from the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute and Discovery grants from the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada to C.P.

Funding Information:
The Kreinitz Experiment has been funded by the Helmholtz Centre for Environmental Research – UFZ. We are grateful to the many colleagues who have assisted with the establishment and maintenance of the experiment and who are too numerous to be listed. In particular, we acknowledge the Departments of Community Ecology and the team of the Bad Lauchstädt field station of the UFZ.

Funding Information:
The German Centre for Integrative Biodiversity Research (iDiv) Halle‐Jena‐Leipzig is funded by the German Research Foundation (DFG FZT 118). D.C. acknowledges funding from the Agencia Nacional de Investigación y Desarrollo (Chile; FONDECYT Regular No. 1201347). The contribution of P.B.R. was supported by the U.S. National Science Foundation. Biological Integration Institutes (grant DBI‐2021898).

Publisher Copyright:
© 2022 The Authors. Global Ecology and Biogeography published by John Wiley & Sons Ltd.

Keywords

  • TreeDivNet
  • aboveground–belowground interactions
  • biodiversity loss
  • biodiversity–ecosystem functioning
  • context dependence
  • global change
  • soil biota
  • soil microbial functions
  • soil microorganisms
  • tree diversity

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