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Soil ecosystem function under native and exotic plant assemblages as alternative states of successional grasslands

Colaborador(es): Spirito, Florencia | Yahdjian, María Laura | Tognetti, Pedro Maximiliano | Chaneton, Enrique José.
ISSN: 1146-609X.Tipo de material: Artículos y capítulos. Recurso electrónico.Tema(s): ABANDONED LAND | ARGENTINA | CARBON SEQUESTRATION | DECOMPOSITION | ECOSYSTEM FUNCTION | FESTUCA ARUNDINACEA | GRASS | GRASSLAND | INVASION | LEAF LITTER | LITTER QUALITY | NATIVE SPECIES | NUTRIENT AVAILABILITY | NUTRIENT CYCLING | OLD FIELD | PAMPAS | PASPALUM | PASPALUM QUADRIFARIUM | PLANT COMMUNITY | POACEAE | RESTORATION | SOIL BIOTA | SOIL ECOSYSTEM | SOIL ORGANIC MATTER | TRITICUM AESTIVUM | Recursos en línea: Haga clic para acceso en línea | LINK AL EDITOR En: Acta Oecologica vol.54 (2014), p.4-12Resumen: Old fields often become dominated by exotic plants establishing persistent community states. Ecosystem functioning may differ widely between such novel communities and the native-dominated counterparts. We evaluated soil ecosystem attributes in native and exotic [synthetic] grass assemblages established on a newly abandoned field, and in remnants of native grassland in the Inland Pampa, Argentina. We asked whether exotic species alter soil functioning through the quality of the litter they shed or by changing the decomposition environment. Litter decomposition of the exotic dominant Festuca arundinacea in exotic assemblages was faster than that of the native dominant Paspalum quadrifarium in native assemblages and remnant grasslands. Decomposition of a standard litter [Triticum aestivum] was also faster in exotic assemblages than in native assemblages and remnant grasslands. In a common garden, F.arundinacea showed higher decay rates than P.quadrifarium, which reflected the higher N content and lower C:N of the exotic grass litter. Soil respiration rates were higher in the exotic than in the native assemblages and remnant grasslands. Yet there were no significant differences in soil N availability or net N mineralization between exotic and native assemblages. Our results suggest that exotic grass dominance affected ecosystem function by producing a more decomposable leaf litter and by increasing soil decomposer activity. These changes might contribute to the extended dominance of fast-growing exotic grasses during old-field succession. Further, increased organic matter turnover under novel, exotic communities could reduce the carbon storage capacity of the system in the long term.
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Old fields often become dominated by exotic plants establishing persistent community states. Ecosystem functioning may differ widely between such novel communities and the native-dominated counterparts. We evaluated soil ecosystem attributes in native and exotic [synthetic] grass assemblages established on a newly abandoned field, and in remnants of native grassland in the Inland Pampa, Argentina. We asked whether exotic species alter soil functioning through the quality of the litter they shed or by changing the decomposition environment. Litter decomposition of the exotic dominant Festuca arundinacea in exotic assemblages was faster than that of the native dominant Paspalum quadrifarium in native assemblages and remnant grasslands. Decomposition of a standard litter [Triticum aestivum] was also faster in exotic assemblages than in native assemblages and remnant grasslands. In a common garden, F.arundinacea showed higher decay rates than P.quadrifarium, which reflected the higher N content and lower C:N of the exotic grass litter. Soil respiration rates were higher in the exotic than in the native assemblages and remnant grasslands. Yet there were no significant differences in soil N availability or net N mineralization between exotic and native assemblages. Our results suggest that exotic grass dominance affected ecosystem function by producing a more decomposable leaf litter and by increasing soil decomposer activity. These changes might contribute to the extended dominance of fast-growing exotic grasses during old-field succession. Further, increased organic matter turnover under novel, exotic communities could reduce the carbon storage capacity of the system in the long term.

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