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Forskningsartikel2023Vetenskapligt granskad

Drought neutralizes positive effects of long-term grazing on grassland productivity through altering plant-soil interactions

Duan, Dongdong; Tian, Zhen; Wu, Nana; Feng, Xiaoxuan; Hou, Fujiang; Nan, Zhibiao; Kardol, Paul; Chen, Tao


Livestock grazing is among the most intensive land-use activities in grasslands, and can affect plant communities directly or indirectly via grazing-induced soil legacies. Under climate change, grasslands are threatened globally by recurrent drought. However, the extent to which drought influences grazing-induced soil legacy effects on plant biomass production and community composition remains largely unexplored. We grew five naturally co-occurring plant species (three dominants and two subordinates) in mixed communities in a glasshouse experiment in live and sterilized soil that had or had not been subjected to 19 years of grazing; these plant communities were then exposed to a subsequent drought. We tested the treatment effects on plant community biomass, proportional above-ground biomass of individual species, arbuscular mycorrhizal (AM) fungal root colonization, and soil nutrient availability. Under drought-free conditions, soils from grazed plots produced significantly higher plant above-ground and total community biomass compared to soils from ungrazed plots. In contrast, plant above-ground and total community biomass were similar between grazed and ungrazed soils under drought conditions. Similarly, soils from grazed plots increased the proportional biomass of dominant species but decreased the proportion of subordinate species; however, the proportional biomass of dominant and subordinate species was similar between grazed and ungrazed soils under drought conditions. Soil NO3--N in grazed soil was significantly higher compared to ungrazed soil. Drought dramatically increased soil NO3--N in sterilized soil and had a more pronounced increase in grazed soil than in ungrazed soil. Arbuscular mycorrhizal fungal root colonization from grazed soil was lower compared to ungrazed soil. Drought significantly increased the soil available phosphorus concentration, as well as plant community AM fungal root colonization. Synthesis. Our study suggests that drought can neutralize positive grazing effects on plant community biomass production via altered plant-soil interactions. Also, we found that drought can alleviate the negative effects of grazing legacies on subordinate species by reducing competitiveness of dominant species. Our study provides new insights for understanding the underlying mechanisms of grazing effects on grassland productivity under climate change. Read the free Plain Language Summary for this article on the Journal blog.


arbuscular mycorrhizal fungi; climate change; drought; grazing; legacy effects; nutrient availability; plant-soil (below-ground) interactions

Publicerad i

Functional Ecology
2023, Volym: 37, nummer: 7, sidor: 1827-1840
Utgivare: WILEY