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Research article - Peer-reviewed, 2017

Plant-soil feedback and the maintenance of diversity in Mediterranean-climate shrublands

Teste, Francois P.; Kardol, Paul; Turner, Benjamin L.; Wardle, David A.; Zemunik, Graham; Renton, Michael; Laliberte, Etienne


Soil biota influence plant performance through plant-soil feedback, but it is unclear whether the strength of such feedback depends on plant traits and whether plant-soil feedback drives local plant diversity. We grew 16 co-occurring plant species with contrasting nutrient-acquisition strategies from hyperdiverse Australian shrublands and exposed them to soil biota from under their own or other plant species. Plant responses to soil biota varied according to their nutrient-acquisition strategy, including positive feedback for ectomycorrhizal plants and negative feedback for nitrogen-fixing and nonmycorrhizal plants. Simulations revealed that such strategy-dependent feedback is sufficient to maintain the high taxonomic and functional diversity characterizing these Mediterranean-climate shrublands. Our study identifies nutrient-acquisition strategy as a key trait explaining how different plant responses to soil biota promote local plant diversity.

Published in

2017, volume: 355, number: 6321, pages: 173-176

Authors' information

Teste, Francois P
University of Western Australia
Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences, Department of Forest Ecology and Management
Turner, Benjamin L.
Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute
Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences, Department of Forest Ecology and Management
Nanyang Technological University (NTU)
Zemunik, Graham
University of Western Australia
Renton, Michael
University of Western Australia
Laliberté, Etienne
University of Western Australia

UKÄ Subject classification

Forest Science

Publication Identifiers


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