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Contrasting soil- and canopy-nurse effects on dependent species in metalliferous systems may be explained by dominant plant functional strategies

Citation

Randé, Hugo et al. (2022), Contrasting soil- and canopy-nurse effects on dependent species in metalliferous systems may be explained by dominant plant functional strategies, Dryad, Dataset, https://doi.org/10.5061/dryad.gf1vhhmt0

Abstract

Plant-plant interaction studies in metalliferous systems have focused either on the role of facilitation or on the negative effects of elemental allelopathy. However, no studies have investigated both of these effects in the same system, and their relationships with the functional strategy of the nurse species, although this is crucial for the ecological restoration of polluted sites.

We assessed the effects of two dominant nurse species, with apparent contrasting strategies, on two target species on a slag heap in the Pyrenees (France). We quantified both long-term soil-engineering and short-term canopy effects on the growth of two target species. We also measured morphological traits and leaf metal concentration of the two nurse species and their effects on air moisture, temperature, and vapour pressure deficit.

Nurse functional strategies, as inferred from morphological traits and leaf metal concentration seem to drive their long-term soil engineering effects on target species: Gypsophila repens, the relatively larger and more exploitative species with high leaf metal concentration, had negative long-term effects likely due to elemental allelopathy, whereas Minuartia verna, the relatively smaller and more conservative species with a lower amount of metals in leaves, had neutral long-term effects. Although Gypsophila repens had a slightly stronger positive effect on microclimate than Minuartia verna, this did not turn into higher short-term effects for the target species.

Our study highlights the possible role of the nurse’s functional strategies in driving the relative importance of long and short-term effects on target species in metalliferous systems. This knowledge is key to increasing our understanding of plant-plant interaction outcomes in metalliferous systems and our ability to restore polluted environments.

Funding

French National Research Agency, Award: ANR-19-CE02-0013-01