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Data from: Effects of the soil microbiome on the demography of two annual prairie plants

Cite this dataset

Alexander, Helen et al. (2021). Data from: Effects of the soil microbiome on the demography of two annual prairie plants [Dataset]. Dryad.


  1. Both mutualistic and pathogenic soil microbes are known to play important roles in shaping the fitness of plants, likely affecting plants at different life cycle stages.
  2. In order to investigate the differential effects of native soil mutualists and pathogens on plant fitness, we compared survival and reproduction of two annual tallgrass prairie plant species (Chamaecrista fasciculata and Coreopsis tinctoria) in a field study using 3 soil inocula treatments containing different compositions of microbes. The soil inocula types included fresh native whole soil taken from a remnant prairie containing both native mutualists and pathogens, soil enhanced with arbuscular mycorrhizal (AM) fungi derived from remnant prairies, and uninoculated controls.
  3. For both species, plants inoculated with native prairie AM fungi performed much better than those in uninoculated soil for all parts of the life cycle. Plants in the native whole prairie soil were either generally similar to plants in the uninoculated soil or had slightly higher survival or reproduction.
  4. Overall, these results suggest that native prairie AM fungi can have important positive effects on the fitness of early successional plants. As inclusion of prairie AM fungi and pathogens decreased plant fitness relative to prairie AM fungi alone, we expect that native pathogens also can have large effects on fitness of these annuals. Our findings support the use of AM fungi to enhance plant establishment in prairie restorations.


This data set focuses on plant traits collected at a field expeirment at the University of Kansas Field Station in 2018. We collected data on survival and reproduction of Coreopsis tinctoria and Chamaecrista fasciculata, 4 weeks after seedlings were transplanted into field plots. We assessed if plants were present, and if they were flowering. If the plant was determined to be both present and flowering, we counted the number of flowers (defined to include flowers, buds, and seed heads/pods). These data are in two separate excel spread sheetswith the appropriate species name, each with a readme file. In addition, there is a third excel file for Coreopsis that includes "seed head" in the title. This refers to ata on harvested seed heads were collected in the field, placed in a paper envelope labeled with the plant and number of seed heads collected. The envelope was then dried and weighed (to nearest 0.001g).

The data reflect the field and lab measurements -- there has been no additional processing.

See the methods section of the paper (now accepted) and the readme files for details.

Usage notes

There are three readme files, one for each of the three excel spreadsheets.


National Science Foundation, Award: DEB 1556664

National Science Foundation, Award: DEB 1738041

National Science Foundation, Award: OIA 1656006