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Data from: Plant and soil microbe responses to light, warming and nitrogen addition in a temperate forest

Citation

Ma, Shiyu et al. (2019), Data from: Plant and soil microbe responses to light, warming and nitrogen addition in a temperate forest, Dryad, Dataset, https://doi.org/10.5061/dryad.q6789

Abstract

1. Temperate forests across Europe and eastern North America have become denser since the 1950s due to less intensive forest management and global environmental changes such as nitrogen deposition and climate warming. Denser tree canopies result in lower light availability at the forest floor. This shade may buffer the effects of nitrogen deposition and climate warming on understorey plant communities. 2. We conducted an innovative in-situ field experiment to study the responses of co-occurring soil microbial and understorey plant communities to nitrogen addition, enhanced light availability, and experimental warming in a full-factorial design. 3. We determined the effects of multiple environmental drivers and their interactions on the soil microbial and understorey plant communities, and assessed to what extent the soil microbial and understorey plant communities co-vary. 4. High light led to lower biomass of the soil microbes (analysed by phospholipid fatty acids), but the soil microbial structure, i.e., the ratio of fungal biomass to bacterial biomass, was not affected by light availability. The composition of the soil bacterial community (analysed by high-throughput sequencing) was affected by both light availability and warming (and their interaction), but not by nitrogen addition. Yet, the number of unique operational taxonomic units was high in plots with nitrogen addition, and there were significant interactive effects of light and nitrogen addition. Light availability also determined the composition of the plant community; no effects of nitrogen addition and warming were observed. The soil bacterial and plant communities were co-structured, and light availability explained most variance of this co-structure. 5. We provide robust evidence for the key role of light in affecting both the soil microbial and plant communities in forest understoreys. Our results advocate for more multifactor global-change experiments that investigate the mechanism underlying the (in)direct effects of light on the plant–soil continuum in forests.

Usage Notes

Location

A temperate forest in Belgium