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Zaller, JG; Heigl, F; Grabmaier, A; Lichtenegger, C; Piller, K; Allabashi, R; Frank, T; Drapela, T.
(2011): Earthworm-Mycorrhiza Interactions Can Affect the Diversity, Structure and Functioning of Establishing Model Grassland Communities
PLOS ONE. 2011; 6(12): FullText FullText_BOKU

Both earthworms and arbuscular mycorrhizal fungi (AMF) are important ecosystem engineers co-occurring in temperate grasslands. However, their combined impacts during grassland establishment are poorly understood and have never been studied. We used large mesocosms to study the effects of different functional groups of earthworms (i.e., vertically burrowing anecics vs. horizontally burrowing endogeics) and a mix of four AMF taxa on the establishment, diversity and productivity of plant communities after a simulated seed rain of 18 grassland species comprising grasses, non-leguminous forbs and legumes. Moreover, effects of earthworms and/or AMF on water infiltration and leaching of ammonium, nitrate and phosphate were determined after a simulated extreme rainfall event (40 l m 22). AMF colonisation of all three plant functional groups was altered by earthworms. Seedling emergence and diversity was reduced by anecic earthworms, however only when AMF were present. Plant density was decreased in AMF-free mesocosms when both anecic and endogeic earthworms were active; with AMF also anecics reduced plant density. Plant shoot and root biomass was only affected by earthworms in AMF-free mesocosms: shoot biomass increased due to the activity of either anecics or endogeics; root biomass increased only when anecics were active. Water infiltration increased when earthworms were present in the mesocosms but remained unaffected by AMF. Ammonium leaching was increased only when anecics or a mixed earthworm community was active but was unaffected by AMF; nitrate and phosphate leaching was neither affected by earthworms nor AMF. Ammonium leaching decreased with increasing plant density, nitrate leaching decreased with increasing plant diversity and density. In order to understand the underlying processes of these interactions further investigations possibly under field conditions using more diverse belowground communities are required. Nevertheless, this study demonstrates that belowground-aboveground linkages involving earthworms and AMF are important mediators of the diversity, structure and functioning of plant communities.
Authors BOKU Wien:
Allabashi Roza
Drapela Thomas
Frank Thomas
Grabmaier Andrea Maria
Heigl Florian
Zaller Johann
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Find related publications in this database (using NML MeSH Indexing)
Animals;Biodiversity;Ecosystem*;Models, Theoretical*;Mycorrhizae/physiology*;Oligochaeta/physiology*;Poaceae*;

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