Plant community attributes such as aboveground plant biomass and diversity are closely associated with soil biota communities and soil ecosystem functions. The aboveground–belowground interactions were frequently found in natural forests, but not in plantation forests.
Prof. WANG Silong, together with his colleagues from the Plantation Ecology Research Team of the Institute of Applied Ecology (IAE), Chinese Academy of Sciences(CAS), recently explored the aboveground–belowground interactions in a large-scale, permanent plot of Chinese fir [Cunninghamia lanceolata (Lamb.) Hook.] plantation, an economically and ecologically important timber forest distributed widely in South China.
The researchers found that regenerated woody plants influenced fungal richness depending on fungi functional groups, and that soil microbial β-diversity (i.e., differences in soil microbial community composition) were strongly coupled with β-diversity and DBH (diameter at breast height) of the regenerated woody plants.
The researchers also found that decomposition rates of leaf litter and fine roots were mainly affected by the regenerated woody species, rather than controlled by Chinese fir, the single dominant tree species in the plantation.
Therefore, they recommend promoting woody plant regeneration to serve ecosystem management in this type of plantation in the future.
These research results have been published in Applied Soil Ecology, entitled "Regenerated woody plants influence soil microbial communities in a subtropical forest" and in Plant and Soil, entitled "Regenerated woody plants influence litter decomposition more than the dominant timber species present in a Chinese fir plantation," respectively. These studies were funded by the National Natural Science Foundation of China and Jiangxi Provincial Natural Science Foundation.
Institute of Applied Ecology, Chinese Academy of Sciences