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It is increasingly acknowledged that soil biota may influence interactions among plant species, however, little is known about how to change historical influences of previous land management on soil biota, the so-called ‘biotic soil legacy effect’. We used a two-phase plant community-soil feedback approach to study how plant species typical to original (i.e. undisturbed) and degraded fen meadows may influence effects of the soil community on Carex species that are dominant in fen meadows. In phase one, soil from original, degraded, successfully and unsuccessfully restored fen meadows was conditioned by growing plants typical to original or to degraded fen meadows. In phase two, interactions between Carex and neighbouring plant species were studied to quantify plant community-soil feedback effects in different neighbour plant mixtures. Soil conditioning with plants typical to original fen meadows resulted in significantly more Carex biomass than with plants typical to degraded fen meadows. These effects were strongest when the soil originated from unsuccessfully restored fen meadows. However, biomass of plants typical of degraded fen meadows was also higher in soil conditioned by typical fen meadow plants. We conclude that soil legacy effects of plants from degraded fen meadows can be altered by growing typical fen meadow plant species in that soil, as this enhances priority effects that favour growth of other typical fen meadow plants. As also plant species from degraded fen meadows benefitted from soil conditioning, further studies are needed to reveal if plant species can be chosen that change negative soil legacy effects for rare and endangered fen meadow plant species, but not for plant species that are typical to degraded fen meadows.
Original languageEnglish
Article numberplx038
JournalAoB PLANTS
Volumein press
Early online date01 Jan 2017
DOI
StateE-pub ahead of print - 2017

    Research areas

  • NIOO

ID: 4566163