Faber, Sandi .
Plant and soil relationships in Manitoba tallgrass prairie.
Historically, large-scale disturbances were major determinants of community structure and species diversity in North American tallgrass prairie. As these disturbances become less frequent, the interactions between plants and soil are of increasing importance. In ecology, the reciprocal interaction between vegetation and soil, whereby plants influence the conditions (encompassing both abiotic and biotic) of the soil community and the soil community in turn shapes the plant community, has been characterized as a type of feedback operating at the community level. A conceptual model of feedback and the proposed mechanisms by which it operates can be used to determine the overall effect of a soil community on local plant performance. Research on the mechanisms of community feedback, and the soil biotic factors influencing plant species diversity have been minimal in the northern tallgrass region, where less than 1% of the original native community remains. I examined the nature of the plant and soil feedback taking place within selected tallgrass communities in Manitoba. The main objectives of this research were to: 1. determine spatial dynamics of vegetation patches; 2. characterize the abiotic soil conditions of a particular community in Manitoba; 3. determine the effect of soil biota from dominant plant patches on the dominant plant species; and 4. determine the effect of different soil communities, including remnant and restoration prairies, on the performance of selected plant species. The results of field sampling showed that local patch structure exists for the dominant species of a particular tallgrass community, while abiotic conditions differ across the patches. Greenhouse assays demonstrated a positive effect of soil biota on the performance of dominant plant species within this community, but across communities there was a varying effect of the abiotic and biotic soil conditions on plant performance.
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1 - University of Manitoba, Department of Biological Sciences, Winnipeg, Manitoba, R3T 2N2, Canada
Presentation Type: Oral Paper:Papers for Sections
Location: Council Chambers/SUB
Date: Monday, July 28th, 2008
Time: 4:00 PM