Resilience in coastal dune grasslands: pH and soil organic matter effects on P nutrition, plant strategies, and soil communities

Annemieke Kooijman (Corresponding author), Elly Morriën, Gerard Jagers op Akkerhuis, Anna Missong, Roland Bol, Erwin Klumpp, Rutger van Hall, Mark van Til, Karsten Kalbitz, Jaap Bloem

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Abstract

Abstract Soil organic matter (SOM) and pH are key ecosystem drivers, influencing resilience to environmental change. We tested the separate effects of pH and SOM on nutrient availability, plant strategies, and soil community composition in calcareous and acidic Grey dunes (H2130) with low, intermediate, and/or high SOM, which differ in sensitivity to high atmospheric N deposition. Soil organic matter was mainly important for biomass parameters of plants, microbes, and soil animals, and for microarthropod diversity and network complexity. However, differences in pH led to fundamental differences in P availability and plant strategies, which overruled the normal soil community patterns, and influenced resilience to N deposition. In calcareous dunes with low grass-encroachment, P availability was low despite high amounts of inorganic P, due to low solubility of calcium phosphates and strong P sorption to Fe oxides at high pH. Calcareous dunes were dominated by low-competitive arbuscular mycorrhizal (AM) plants, which profit from mycorrhiza especially at low P. In acidic dunes with high grass-encroachment, P availability increased as calcium phosphates dissolved and P sorption weakened with the shift from Fe oxides to Fe-OM complexes. Weakly sorbed and colloidal P increased, and at least part of the sorbed P was organic. Acidic dunes were dominated by nonmycorrhizal (NM) plants, which increase P uptake through exudation of carboxylates and phosphatase enzymes, which release weakly sorbed P, and disintegrate labile organic P. The shifts in P availability and plant strategies also changed the soil community. Contrary to expectations, the bacterial pathway was more important in acidic than in calcareous dunes, possibly due to exudation of carboxylates and phosphatases by NM plants, which serve as bacterial food resource. Also, the fungal AM pathway was enhanced in calcareous dunes, and fungal feeders more abundant, due to the presence of AM fungi. The changes in soil communities in turn reduced expected differences in N cycling between calcareous and acidic dunes. Our results show that SOM and pH are important, but separate ecosystem drivers in Grey dunes. Differences in resilience to N deposition are mainly due to pH effects on P availability and plant strategies, which in turn overruled soil community patterns.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)e03112
JournalEcosphere
Volume11
Issue number5
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2020

Keywords

  • arbuscular mycorrhizal (AM) plants
  • atmospheric N deposition
  • bacteria
  • fungi
  • Grey dunes H2130
  • iron
  • nonmycorrhizal (NM) plants
  • soil community network
  • international
  • Plan_S-Compliant_OA

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    Kooijman, A., Morriën, E., Jagers op Akkerhuis, G., Missong, A., Bol, R., Klumpp, E., van Hall, R., van Til, M., Kalbitz, K., & Bloem, J. (2020). Resilience in coastal dune grasslands: pH and soil organic matter effects on P nutrition, plant strategies, and soil communities. Ecosphere, 11(5), e03112. https://doi.org/10.1002/ecs2.3112