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Article

Plant Functional Diversity, Climate and Grazer Type Regulate Soil Activity in Natural Grasslands

1
GAMES Group, Dept. HBJ, ETSEA, University of Lleida, 25003 Lleida, Spain
2
Laboratory of Functional Ecology and Global Change (ECOFUN), Forest Sciences Centre of Catalonia (CTFC), 25280 Solsona, Spain
3
Grupo Ecología y Medio Ambiente, Universidad Pública de Navarra (UPNA), 31006 Pamplona, Spain
4
Research Institute on Innovation and Sustainable Development in Food Chain (ISFood), Universidad Pública de Navarra, 31006 Pamplona, Spain
*
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Agronomy 2020, 10(9), 1291; https://doi.org/10.3390/agronomy10091291
Received: 3 August 2020 / Revised: 24 August 2020 / Accepted: 25 August 2020 / Published: 31 August 2020
Global change modifies vegetation composition in grasslands with shifts in plant functional types (PFT). Although changes in plant community composition imply changes in soil function, this relationship is not well understood. We investigated the relative importance of environmental (climatic, management and soil) variables and plant functional diversity (PFT composition and interactions) on soil activity and fertility along a climatic gradient. We collected samples of soil and PFT biomass (grasses, legumes, and non-legume forbs) in six extensively managed grasslands along a climatic gradient in the Northern Iberian Peninsula. Variation Partitioning Analysis showed that abiotic and management variables explained most of the global variability (96.5%) in soil activity and fertility; soil moisture and grazer type being the best predictors. PFT diversity accounted for 27% of the total variability, mostly in interaction with environmental factors. Diversity-Interaction models applied on each response variable revealed that PFT-evenness and pairwise interactions affected particularly the nitrogen cycle, enhancing microbial biomass nitrogen, dissolved organic nitrogen, total nitrogen, urease, phosphatase, and nitrification potential. Thus, soil activity and fertility were not only regulated by environmental variables, but also enhanced by PFT diversity. We underline that climate change-induced shifts in vegetation composition can alter greenhouse gas—related soil processes and eventually the feedback of the soil to the atmosphere. View Full-Text
Keywords: extensively managed grasslands; soil enzyme activity; soil microbial biomass; soil fertility; plant community composition; Northern Iberian Peninsula extensively managed grasslands; soil enzyme activity; soil microbial biomass; soil fertility; plant community composition; Northern Iberian Peninsula
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MDPI and ACS Style

Debouk, H.; San Emeterio, L.; Marí, T.; Canals, R.M.; Sebastià, M.-T. Plant Functional Diversity, Climate and Grazer Type Regulate Soil Activity in Natural Grasslands. Agronomy 2020, 10, 1291. https://doi.org/10.3390/agronomy10091291

AMA Style

Debouk H, San Emeterio L, Marí T, Canals RM, Sebastià M-T. Plant Functional Diversity, Climate and Grazer Type Regulate Soil Activity in Natural Grasslands. Agronomy. 2020; 10(9):1291. https://doi.org/10.3390/agronomy10091291

Chicago/Turabian Style

Debouk, Haifa, Leticia San Emeterio, Teresa Marí, Rosa M. Canals, and Maria-Teresa Sebastià. 2020. "Plant Functional Diversity, Climate and Grazer Type Regulate Soil Activity in Natural Grasslands" Agronomy 10, no. 9: 1291. https://doi.org/10.3390/agronomy10091291

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