Data from: Differences in thallus chemistry are related to species-specific effects of biocrust-forming lichens on soil nutrients and microbial communities
Delgado-Baquerizo, Manuel et al. (2015), Data from: Differences in thallus chemistry are related to species-specific effects of biocrust-forming lichens on soil nutrients and microbial communities, Dryad, Dataset, https://doi.org/10.5061/dryad.3m1v4
1. It is well-known that vascular plants have species-specific effects on soil properties. However, little is known on how individual species forming biocrusts, communities dominated by lichens, mosses and cyanobacteria that are prevalent in many ecosystems world-wide, affect microbial communities and soil variables related to nutrient cycling. 2. We evaluated the relationship of six biocrust-forming lichens (Buellia epipolia, Diploschistes diacapsis, Fulgensia subbracteata, Psora decipiens, Squamarina cartilaginea and Squamarina lentigera) with microbial abundance and multiple variables associated with soil nitrogen (N), carbon (C) and phosphorus (P) cycling and storage. We also evaluated whether the composition of lichen tissues (contents in C, N, P and polyphenols) is related to the C, N, P availability and microbial abundance in soils. Finally, we assessed what lichen species positively and negatively relate to soil fertility compared to bare ground areas without biocrusts. 3. We found contrasted C, N, P availability and soil microbial abundance under the different biocrust-forming lichens. Interestingly, inorganic P and amino acids were the most important factors differentiating lichen microsites. These differences in nutrient availability seem to be related to the C, N and P composition of the lichen tissues. For example, soils under D. diacapsis and P. decipiens, which had the lowest and highest C, N and P contents in their tissues, respectively, had the lowest and highest nutrient availability, respectively. We also found contrasted soil microbes abundance under the different soil lichens. For instance, F. subbracteata and D. diacapsis were negatively related to the abundance of bacteria compared to bare ground areas. 4. Our results support the idea that, as found with vascular plants, biocrust-forming lichens have species-specific effects on soil microbial communities and C, N and P cycling. Thus, continuing considering biocrusts as a unique entity will only add confusion to our knowledge of how they control nutrient availability and microbial abundance in the ecosystems where this key community is prevalent.