Soil fungal abundance and plant functional traits drive fertile island formation in global drylands

Raúl Ochoa-Hueso, David J. Eldridge, Manuel Delgado-Baquerizo, Santiago Soliveres, Matthew A Bowker, Nicolas Gross, Yoann Le Bagousse-Pinguet, José L. Quero, Miguel García-Gómez, Enrique Valencia, Tulio Arredondo, Laura Beinticinco, Donaldo Bran, Alex Cea, Daniel Coaguila, Andrew J. Dougill, Carlos I. Espinosa, Juan Gaitán, Reginald T. Guuroh, Elizabeth Guzman & 14 others Julio R. Gutiérrez, Rosa M. Hernández, Elisabeth Huber-Sannwald, Thomas Jeffries, Anja Linstädter, Rebecca L. Mau, Jorge Monerris, Aníbal Prina, Eduardo Pucheta, Ilan Stavi, Andrew D. Thomas, Eli Zaady, Brajesh K. Singh, Fernando T. Maestre

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

26 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

Dryland vegetation is characterized by discrete plant patches that accumulate and capture soil resources under their canopies. These “fertile islands” are major drivers of dryland ecosystem structure and functioning, yet we lack an integrated understanding of the factors controlling their magnitude and variability at the global scale. We conducted a standardized field survey across 236 drylands from five continents. At each site, we measured the composition, diversity and cover of perennial plants. Fertile island effects were estimated at each site by comparing composite soil samples obtained under the canopy of the dominant plants and in open areas devoid of perennial vegetation. For each sample, we measured 15 soil variables (functions) associated with carbon, nitrogen and phosphorus cycling and used the relative interaction index to quantify the magnitude of the fertile island effect for each function. In 80 sites, we also measured fungal and bacterial abundance (quantitative PCR) and diversity (Illumina MiSeq). The most fertile islands, i.e. those where a higher number of functions were simultaneously enhanced, were found at lower elevation sites with greater soil pH values and sand content under semiarid climates, particularly at locations where the presence of tall woody species with a low-specific leaf area increased fungal abundance beneath plant canopies, the main direct biotic controller of the fertile island effect in the drylands studied. Positive effects of fungal abundance were particularly associated with greater nutrient contents and microbial activity (soil extracellular enzymes) under plant canopies. Synthesis. Our results show that the formation of fertile islands in global drylands largely depends on: (1) local climatic, topographic and edaphic characteristics, (2) the structure and traits of local plant communities and (3) soil microbial communities. Our study also has broad implications for the management and restoration of dryland ecosystems worldwide, where woody plants are commonly used as nurse plants to enhance the establishment and survival of beneficiary species. Finally, our results suggest that forecasted increases in aridity may enhance the formation of fertile islands in drylands worldwide.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)242-253
Number of pages12
JournalJournal of Ecology
Volume106
Issue number1
DOIs
StatePublished - Jan 1 2018

Fingerprint

arid lands
soil
canopy
nurse plant
nurse plants
perennial plant
vegetation
ecosystem structure
ecosystems
soil resources
dry environmental conditions
semiarid zones
controllers
woody plant
aridity
woody plants
microbial activity
leaf area
field survey
microbial communities

Keywords

  • aridity
  • drylands
  • fertile islands
  • fungal abundance
  • multiple threshold approach
  • plant functional traits
  • relative interaction index
  • soil properties

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics
  • Ecology
  • Plant Science

Cite this

Ochoa-Hueso, R., Eldridge, D. J., Delgado-Baquerizo, M., Soliveres, S., Bowker, M. A., Gross, N., ... Maestre, F. T. (2018). Soil fungal abundance and plant functional traits drive fertile island formation in global drylands. Journal of Ecology, 106(1), 242-253. https://doi.org/10.1111/1365-2745.12871

Soil fungal abundance and plant functional traits drive fertile island formation in global drylands. / Ochoa-Hueso, Raúl; Eldridge, David J.; Delgado-Baquerizo, Manuel; Soliveres, Santiago; Bowker, Matthew A; Gross, Nicolas; Le Bagousse-Pinguet, Yoann; Quero, José L.; García-Gómez, Miguel; Valencia, Enrique; Arredondo, Tulio; Beinticinco, Laura; Bran, Donaldo; Cea, Alex; Coaguila, Daniel; Dougill, Andrew J.; Espinosa, Carlos I.; Gaitán, Juan; Guuroh, Reginald T.; Guzman, Elizabeth; Gutiérrez, Julio R.; Hernández, Rosa M.; Huber-Sannwald, Elisabeth; Jeffries, Thomas; Linstädter, Anja; Mau, Rebecca L.; Monerris, Jorge; Prina, Aníbal; Pucheta, Eduardo; Stavi, Ilan; Thomas, Andrew D.; Zaady, Eli; Singh, Brajesh K.; Maestre, Fernando T.

In: Journal of Ecology, Vol. 106, No. 1, 01.01.2018, p. 242-253.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Ochoa-Hueso, R, Eldridge, DJ, Delgado-Baquerizo, M, Soliveres, S, Bowker, MA, Gross, N, Le Bagousse-Pinguet, Y, Quero, JL, García-Gómez, M, Valencia, E, Arredondo, T, Beinticinco, L, Bran, D, Cea, A, Coaguila, D, Dougill, AJ, Espinosa, CI, Gaitán, J, Guuroh, RT, Guzman, E, Gutiérrez, JR, Hernández, RM, Huber-Sannwald, E, Jeffries, T, Linstädter, A, Mau, RL, Monerris, J, Prina, A, Pucheta, E, Stavi, I, Thomas, AD, Zaady, E, Singh, BK & Maestre, FT 2018, 'Soil fungal abundance and plant functional traits drive fertile island formation in global drylands', Journal of Ecology, vol. 106, no. 1, pp. 242-253. https://doi.org/10.1111/1365-2745.12871
Ochoa-Hueso, Raúl ; Eldridge, David J. ; Delgado-Baquerizo, Manuel ; Soliveres, Santiago ; Bowker, Matthew A ; Gross, Nicolas ; Le Bagousse-Pinguet, Yoann ; Quero, José L. ; García-Gómez, Miguel ; Valencia, Enrique ; Arredondo, Tulio ; Beinticinco, Laura ; Bran, Donaldo ; Cea, Alex ; Coaguila, Daniel ; Dougill, Andrew J. ; Espinosa, Carlos I. ; Gaitán, Juan ; Guuroh, Reginald T. ; Guzman, Elizabeth ; Gutiérrez, Julio R. ; Hernández, Rosa M. ; Huber-Sannwald, Elisabeth ; Jeffries, Thomas ; Linstädter, Anja ; Mau, Rebecca L. ; Monerris, Jorge ; Prina, Aníbal ; Pucheta, Eduardo ; Stavi, Ilan ; Thomas, Andrew D. ; Zaady, Eli ; Singh, Brajesh K. ; Maestre, Fernando T. / Soil fungal abundance and plant functional traits drive fertile island formation in global drylands. In: Journal of Ecology. 2018 ; Vol. 106, No. 1. pp. 242-253.
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AU - Eldridge, David J.

AU - Delgado-Baquerizo, Manuel

AU - Soliveres, Santiago

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AU - Gross, Nicolas

AU - Le Bagousse-Pinguet, Yoann

AU - Quero, José L.

AU - García-Gómez, Miguel

AU - Valencia, Enrique

AU - Arredondo, Tulio

AU - Beinticinco, Laura

AU - Bran, Donaldo

AU - Cea, Alex

AU - Coaguila, Daniel

AU - Dougill, Andrew J.

AU - Espinosa, Carlos I.

AU - Gaitán, Juan

AU - Guuroh, Reginald T.

AU - Guzman, Elizabeth

AU - Gutiérrez, Julio R.

AU - Hernández, Rosa M.

AU - Huber-Sannwald, Elisabeth

AU - Jeffries, Thomas

AU - Linstädter, Anja

AU - Mau, Rebecca L.

AU - Monerris, Jorge

AU - Prina, Aníbal

AU - Pucheta, Eduardo

AU - Stavi, Ilan

AU - Thomas, Andrew D.

AU - Zaady, Eli

AU - Singh, Brajesh K.

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