Incorporating microbes into plant community ecology
Bever , James David .
Conceptual frameworks for understanding soil microbial impacts on plant communities.
Resource partitioning has played a prominent role in the thinking about plant community structure. Yet this and other commonly held frameworks in plant ecology have an aboveground bias that neglects soil organisms. However, recent work has illustrated that the presence and composition of soil microbial communities can have large impacts on plant community diversity and composition. Therefore, a complete understanding of plant community structure and dynamics requires integration of a microbial perspective with frameworks for plant-plant interactions. I outline three ways in which microbes can impact plant community dynamics and coexistence. The first two mechanisms act through microbial modification of plant resource competition, either through microbial mediation of plant resource partitioning (expansion or contraction), or through resource sharing via common mycorrhizal networks. The third mechanism, plant-soil community feedbacks, does not depend upon competition for resources for plant species coexistence. Rather, the dynamics of soil microbes (changes in density and composition) can reinforce or work against the fitness of the most abundant plant species. I describe and illustrate these mechanisms of microbial mediation of plant-plant interactions, and discuss their implications for the dynamics and management of plant communities.
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1 - Indiana University, Department of Biology, Bloomington, Indiana, 47401, USA
Presentation Type: Symposium or Colloquium Presentation
Location: Westminster Room/Chase Park Plaza
Date: Monday, July 11th, 2011
Time: 8:00 AM