Larger aboveground neighbourhood scales maximise similarity but do not eliminate discrepancies with belowground plant diversity in a Mediterranean shrubland

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Illuminati, Ángel de la and López Angulo, Jesús and Cruz, Marcelino de la and Chacón Labella, Julia and Pescador, David S. and Pías Couso, María Beatriz and Sánchez, Ana M. and Escudero Alcántara, Adrián and Matesanz, Silvia (2021) Larger aboveground neighbourhood scales maximise similarity but do not eliminate discrepancies with belowground plant diversity in a Mediterranean shrubland. Plant and soil, 460 . pp. 497-509. ISSN 0032-079X, Electronic: 1573-5036

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Official URL: https://doi.org/10.1007/s11104-020-04796-7




Abstract

Aims: An unresolved question in plant ecology is whether diversity of the aboveground and belowground compartments of a plant community is similar at different neighbourhood scales. We investigated how the similarity between both compartments varies with the aboveground sampling grain and if significant discrepancies exist between aboveground and belowground plant diversity at the maximum similarity scale.
Methods We fully mapped the aboveground perennial plant community of a 64 m2 plot in a Mediterranean shrubland and analysed this compartment by assessing diversity in 5 to 50 cm radii circles centred in soil cores. We sampled 2.5 cm radius root cores at two different depths and identified plant species by using DNA metabarcoding to characterise the belowground compartment. We quantified differences in species richness, composition and species’ spatial distribution above- and belowground.
Results: The differences between aboveground and belowground communities were affected by the size of the aboveground sampling grain and were minimised when considering a circle of 20 cm radius in the aboveground. We found a significant dissimilarity in richness and composition between the two compartments, with larger differences when considering the deeper soil layer only.
Conclusions: Our results showed that the spatial grain selected to sample a plant community aboveground and belowground is critical to characterise them in a comparable manner. Although their composition is related, species distribution patterns strongly differ, suggesting the simultaneous action of different assembly mechanisms. Our results call for caution when studying community assembly considering only the standing vegetation, since total plant diversity can be underappreciated.


Item Type:Article
Uncontrolled Keywords:DNA metabarcoding; Belowground plant diversity; Community assembly; Roots; Shrubland; Coexistence
Subjects:Medical sciences > Biology > Ecology
ID Code:68104
Deposited On:04 Oct 2021 10:59
Last Modified:04 Oct 2021 11:51

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