Plant trait effects on soil organisms and functions
Eisenhauer, Nico | Powell, Jeff R.
Global change alters the composition and functioning of ecosystems by creating novel environmental conditions and thereby selecting for specific traits of organisms. Thus, trait-based approaches are promising tools to more mechanistically understand compositional and functional shifts in ecological communities as well as the dependency of response and effect traits upon global change. Such approaches have been particularly successful for the study of plant communities in terrestrial ecosystems. However, given the intimate linkages between aboveground and belowground compartments as well as the significance of plants as integrating organisms across those compartments, the role of plant traits in affecting soils communities has been understudied. This special issue contains empirical studies and reviews of plant trait effects on soil organisms and functions. Based on those contributions, we discuss plasticity in trait expression, the context-dependency of plant trait effects, time lags in soil biotic responses to trait expression, and limitations of measured plant traits. We conclude that plant trait-based approaches are an important tool to advance soil ecological research, but also identify critical limitations and next steps.Show more [+] Less [-]