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Title: Modern pollen rain predicts shifts in plant trait composition but not plant diversity along the Andes–Amazon elevational gradient
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Giesecke, Thomas
Date Published:
Journal Name:
Journal of Vegetation Science
Medium: X
Sponsoring Org:
National Science Foundation
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  1. Abstract

    Plant productivity often increases with species richness, but the mechanisms explaining this diversity–productivity relationship are not fully understood. We tested if plant–soil feedbacks (PSF) can help to explain how biomass production changes with species richness. Using a greenhouse experiment, we measured all 240 possible PSFs for 16 plant species. At the same time, 49 plant communities with diversities ranging from one to 16 species were grown in replicated pots. A suite of plant community growth models, parameterized with (PSF) or without PSF (Null) effects, was used to predict plant growth observed in the communities. Selection effects and complementarity effects in modeled and observed data were separated. Plants created soils that increased or decreased subsequent plant growth by 25% ± 10%, but because PSFs were negative for C3and C4grasses, neutral for forbs, and positive for legumes, the net effect of all PSFs was a 2% ± 17% decrease in plant growth. Experimental plant communities with 16 species produced 37% more biomass than monocultures due to complementarity. Null models incorrectly predicted that 16‐species communities would overyield due to selection effects. Adding PSF effects to Null models decreased selection effects, increased complementarity effects, and improved correlations between observed and predicted community biomass. PSF models predicted 26% of overyielding caused by complementarity observed in experimental communities. Relative to Null models, PSF models improved the predictions of the magnitude and mechanism of the diversity–productivity relationship. Results provide clear support for PSFs as one of several mechanisms that determine diversity–productivity relationships and help close the gap in understanding how biodiversity enhances ecosystem services such as biomass production.

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  2. null (Ed.)
    Plant soil feedback (PSF) occurs when a plant modifies soil biotic properties and those changes in turn influence plant growth, survival or reproduction. These feedback effects are not well understood as mechanisms for invasive plant species. Eragrostis lehmanniana is an invasive species that has extensively colonized the southwest US. To address how PSFs may affect E. lehmanniana invasion and native Bouteloua gracilis growth, soil inoculant from four sites of known invasion age at the Appleton-Whittell Audubon Research Ranch in Sonoita, AZ were used in a PSF greenhouse study, incorporating a replacement series design. The purpose of this research was to evaluate PSF conspecific and heterospecific effects and competition outcomes between the invasive E. lehmanniana and a native forage grass, Bouteloua gracilis . Eragrostis lehmanniana PSFs were beneficial to B. gracilis if developed in previously invaded soil. Plant-soil feedback contributed to competitive suppression of B. gracilis only in the highest ratio of E. lehmanniana to B. gracilis . Plant-soil feedback did not provide an advantage to E. lehmanniana in competitive interactions with B. gracilis at low competition levels but were advantageous to E. lehmanniana at the highest competition ratio, indicating a possible density-dependent effect. Despite being beneficial to B. gracilis under many conditions, E. lehmanniana was the superior competitor. 
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  3. Summary

    The disruption of mutualisms by invasive species has consequences for biodiversity loss and ecosystem function. Although invasive plant effects on the pollination of individual native species has been the subject of much study, their impacts on entire plant–pollinator communities are less understood. Community‐level studies on plant invasion have mainly focused on two fronts: understanding the mechanisms that mediate their integration; and their effects on plant–pollinator network structure. Here we briefly review current knowledge and propose a more unified framework for evaluating invasive species integration and their effects on plant–pollinator communities. We further outline gaps in our understanding and propose ways to advance knowledge in this field. Specifically, modeling approaches have so far yielded important predictions regarding the outcome and drivers of invasive species effects on plant communities. However, experimental studies that test these predictions in the field are lacking. We further emphasize the need to understand the link between invasive plant effects on pollination network structure and their consequences for native plant population dynamics (population growth). Integrating demographic studies with those on pollination networks is thus key in order to achieve a more predictive understanding of pollinator‐mediated effects of invasive species on the persistence of native plant biodiversity.

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