Soil organisms are important in the structuring of plant communities. However, little is known about how to apply this knowledge to vegetation management. Here, we examined if soil organisms may promote plant species of characteristic habitats, and suppress plant species of disturbed habitats. We classified nineteen fields into four types: characteristic and disturbed matgrass swards and successfully and unsuccessfully restored fields. We recorded the vegetation composition and measured biotic and abiotic soil characteristics of the sites. In a pot experiment, we mixed non-sterilized (with soil organisms) or sterilized (without soil organisms) soil inoculum from each field with a common sterilized background soil. We planted seedlings of characteristic matgrass species Antennaria dioica and Nardus stricta, of disturbance indicators Deschampsia flexuosa and Agrostis capillaris, or a combination of the four species. At harvest, we measured root and shoot dry mass of all plants.
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