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Data from: Species abundance fluctuations over 31 years are associated with plant-soil feedback in a species-rich mountain meadow

Cite this dataset

in 't Zandt, Dina et al. (2020). Data from: Species abundance fluctuations over 31 years are associated with plant-soil feedback in a species-rich mountain meadow [Dataset]. Dryad.


1. Increasing evidence suggest that plant-soil interactions play an essential role in plant community assembly processes. Empirical investigations show that plant species abundance in the field is often related to plant-soil biota interactions, however, the direction of these relations have yielded inconsistent results.

2. We combined unique 31-year long field data on species abundances from a species-rich mountain meadow with single time point plant-soil feedback greenhouse experiments of 24 co-occurring plant species. We tested whether these relations were dynamic in time, whether coupled increases and decreases in abundance between years were related to plant-soil feedback and whether these changes were underlain by years in which manuring was applied.

3. The prevailingly negative relationship between plant-soil feedback and plant relative abundance in the field was significantly time-dependent, which may reconcile the contrasting results in literature. Furthermore, significant coupled oscillations appeared between species relative abundance changes and plant-soil feedback, which were likely moderated by years in which manuring was applied. Our results are consistent with the notion that the more abundant species are stabilised by negative plant-soil feedback, and the less abundant species co-vary with the fluctuations of these more competitive species.

4. Synthesis: Our results project plant-soil feedback as an important regulatory mechanism in plant communities, operating in conjunction with a species’ competitive ability and soil nutrient availability. We suggest that negative feedback is particularly prominent in more abundant plant species that profit from more readily available soil nutrients than less abundant species with positive feedback. Negative plant-soil feedback may thus prevent more abundant plant species from outcompeting less abundant plant species, facilitating stable species co-existence.

Usage notes

Data from the plant-soil feedback experiment. Field data on plant species abundances were obtained from the LOng Term Vegetation Sampling (LOTVS) database of Valencia et al., (2020).

Valencia, E., de Bello, F., Lepš, J., Galland, T., E-Vojtkó, A., Conti, L., … Götzenberger, L. (2020). Directional trends in species composition over time can lead to a widespread overemphasis of year-to-year asynchrony. Journal of Vegetation Science, 31(5), 792–802. doi: 10.1111/jvs.12916.


Dutch Research Council, Award: 824.01.003

Czech Science Foundation, Award: 20-02901S