Table_1_Soil Inoculation Steers Plant-Soil Feedback, Suppressing Ruderal Plant Species.docx
Plant-soil feedbacks (PSFs) are important drivers of vegetation composition in nature. Whole-soil inoculations can help to steer plant-community assembly for nature restoration success. However, it is unclear how subsequent colonization by ruderal and late-successional plant species influences PSFs. Here we test the direction and strength of the PSFs for ruderal and target plant species on differently inoculated soils. We hypothesize that inoculation with late-successional field soil promotes positive and negative PSFs for late-successional and ruderal plants, respectively. We conducted a glasshouse experiment with three plant-growth phases. First, we inoculated a common nutrient-rich ex-arable recipient soil with either a heathland, grassland or an arable soil, and grew mixtures of three ruderal, and three late-successional target species in all soils. Subsequently, we divided the experimental units over four new pots and planted half with mixtures of three ruderal and half with mixtures of three late-successional plant species, to simulate local colonization by these species groups. After 9 weeks, we removed the plants and replanted the pots with ruderal and late-successional species mixtures in a full factorial design to quantify the induced PSFs, after a further 9 weeks of growth. We found that ruderal plants developed positive PSF on soils inoculated with arable soil and neutral feedback when soils were inoculated with grassland or heathland inoculum. The positive PSF was most pronounced for Myosotis arvensis, although all ruderal species showed the most positive PSFs on arable-inoculated soils. There was no significant effect of inoculation on the PSF of late-successional species. As a result of changing PSFs, the relative performance of ruderal and late-successional target species became more similar on soils inoculated with grassland or heathland inoculum, leading to higher evenness. We conclude that soil inoculation on nutrient-rich ex-arable soils can affect PSFs. Inoculation with grassland or heathland inoculum prevented ruderal species from developing positive PSF and shifted the competitive balance in favor of late-successional plants. Future studies need to address the longer-term dynamics of soil inoculation-induced shifts in PSFs, particularly because these are expected to develop over longer timescales in the slow-growing late-successional target species, as well as the impact of competitive plant-plant interactions.