Mutualist and pathogen traits interact to affect plant community structure in a spatially explicit model

John W. Schroeder, Andrew Dobson, Scott A. Mangan, Daniel F. Petticord, Edward Allen Herre

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Abstract

Empirical studies show that plant-soil feedbacks (PSF) can generate negative density dependent (NDD) recruitment capable of maintaining plant community diversity at landscape scales. However, the observation that common plants often exhibit relatively weaker NDD than rare plants at local scales is difficult to reconcile with the maintenance of overall plant diversity. We develop a spatially explicit simulation model that tracks the community dynamics of microbial mutualists, pathogens, and their plant hosts. We find that net PSF effects vary as a function of both host abundance and key microbial traits (e.g., host affinity) in ways that are compatible with both common plants exhibiting relatively weaker local NDD, while promoting overall species diversity. The model generates a series of testable predictions linking key microbial traits and the relative abundance of host species, to the strength and scale of PSF and overall plant community diversity.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number2204
JournalNature communications
Volume11
Issue number1
DOIs
StatePublished - Dec 1 2020

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Chemistry(all)
  • Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology(all)
  • Physics and Astronomy(all)

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