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Soil Microbes Generate Stronger Fitness Differences than Stabilization among California Annual Plants.

Authors
  • Kandlikar गौरव कांडिलकर, Gaurav S
  • Yan 严心怡, Xinyi
  • Levine, Jonathan M
  • Kraft, Nathan J B
Type
Published Article
Journal
The American Naturalist
Publisher
The University of Chicago Press
Publication Date
Jan 01, 2021
Volume
197
Issue
1
Identifiers
DOI: 10.1086/711662
PMID: 33417516
Source
Medline
Keywords
Language
English
License
Unknown

Abstract

AbstractSoil microorganisms influence a variety of processes in plant communities. Many theoretical and empirical studies have shown that dynamic feedbacks between plants and soil microbes can stabilize plant coexistence by generating negative frequency-dependent plant population dynamics. However, inferring the net effects of soil microbes on plant coexistence requires also quantifying the degree to which they provide one species an average fitness advantage, an effect that has received little empirical attention. We conducted a greenhouse study to quantify microbially mediated stabilization and fitness differences among 15 pairs of annual plants that co-occur in southern California grasslands. We found that although soil microbes frequently generate negative frequency-dependent dynamics that stabilize plant interactions, they simultaneously generate large average fitness differences between species. The net result is that if the plant species are otherwise competitively equivalent, the impact of plant-soil feedbacks is to often favor species exclusion over coexistence, a result that becomes evident only by quantifying the microbially mediated fitness difference. Our work highlights that comparing the stabilizing effects of plant-soil feedbacks to the fitness difference they generate is essential for understanding the influence of soil microbes on plant diversity.

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