Plant choice changes soil long-term (journal)

Single introductions of soil biota and plants generate long‐term legacies in soil and plant community assembly

Centuries‐old man‐made legacies in the landscape still strongly influence present‐day nutrient cycling, plant productivity and species composition in natural ecosystems. For instance, long‐term human soil cultivation led to ‘Dark Earths’ around the world, supporting fungal‐dominated soil communities that still affect productivity and plant species composition centuries later. This paper demonstrates experimentally that one‐time additions of soil biota and plant seeds alter soil‐borne nematode and plant community composition in semi‐natural grassland for 20 years. Over time, above ground and below ground community composition became increasingly correlated, suggesting an increasing connectedness of soil biota and plants. Authors conclude that the initial composition of not only plant communities, but also soil communities has a long‐lasting impact on the trajectory of community assembly.