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Data from: Soil aggregate stability and grassland productivity associations in a northern mixed-grass prairie

Citation

Reinhart, Kurt O.; Vermeire, Lance T. (2017), Data from: Soil aggregate stability and grassland productivity associations in a northern mixed-grass prairie, Dryad, Dataset, https://doi.org/10.5061/dryad.kc811

Abstract

Soil aggregate stability data are often predicted to be positively associated with measures of plant productivity, rangeland health, and ecosystem functioning. Here we revisit the hypothesis that soil aggregate stability is positively associated with plant productivity. We measured local (plot-to-plot) variation in grassland community composition, plant (aboveground) biomass, root biomass, % water-stable soil aggregates, and topography. After accounting for spatial autocorrelation, we observed a negative association between % water-stable soil aggregates (0.25-1 and 1-2 mm size classes of macroaggregates) and dominant graminoid biomass, and negative associations between the % water-stable aggregates and the root biomass of a dominant sedge (Carex filifolia). However, variation in total root biomass (0-10 or 0-30 cm depths) was either negatively or not appreciably associated with soil aggregate stabilities. Overall, regression slope coefficients were consistently negative thereby indicating the general absence of a positive association between measures of plant productivity and soil aggregate stability for the study area. The predicted positive association between factors was likely confounded by variation in plant species composition. Specifically, sampling spanned a local gradient in plant community composition which was likely driven by niche partitioning along a subtle gradient in elevation. Our results suggest an apparent trade-off between some measures of plant biomass production and soil aggregate stability, both known to affect the land's capacity to resist erosion. These findings further highlight the uncertainty of plant biomass-soil stability associations.

Usage Notes

Location

Montana
Northern Great Plains