Soil-plant co-stimulation during forest vegetation restoration in a subtropical area of southern China
Citable Link (URL):http://resolver.sub.uni-goettingen.de/purl?gs-1/17309
Abstract Background Soil and vegetation have a direct impact on the process and direction of plant community succession, and determine the structure, function, and productivity of ecosystems. However, little is known about the synergistic influence of soil physicochemical properties and vegetation features on vegetation restoration. The aim of this study was to investigate the co-evolution of soil physicochemical properties and vegetation features in the process of vegetation restoration, and to distinguish the primary and secondary relationships between soil and vegetation in their collaborative effects on promoting vegetation restoration in a subtropical area of China. Methods Soil samples were collected to 40 cm in four distinct plant communities along a restoration gradient from herb (4–5 years), to shrub (11–12 years), to Pinus massoniana coniferous and broadleaved mixed forest (45–46 years), and to evergreen broadleaved forest (old growth forest). Measurements were taken of the soil physicochemical properties and Shannon–Wiener index (SD), diameter at breast height (DBH), height (H), and biomass. Principal component analysis, linear function analysis, and variation partitioning analysis were then performed to prioritize the relative importance of the leading factors affecting vegetation restoration. Results Soil physicochemical properties and vegetation features showed a significant trend of improvement across the vegetation restoration gradient, reflected mainly in the high response rates of soil organic carbon (SOC) (140.76%), total nitrogen (TN) (222.48%), total phosphorus (TP) (59.54%), alkaline hydrolysis nitrogen (AN) (544.65%), available phosphorus (AP) (53.28%), species diversity (86.3%), biomass (2906.52%), DBH (128.11%), and H (596.97%). The soil properties (pH, SOC, TN, AN, and TP) and vegetation features (biomass, DBH, and H) had a clear co-evolutionary relationship over the course of restoration. The synergistic interaction between soil properties and vegetation features had the greatest effect on biomass (55.55%–72.37%), and the soil properties contributed secondarily (3.30%–31.44%). The main impact factors of biomass varied with the restoration periods. Conclusions In the process of vegetation restoration, soil and vegetation promoted each other. Vegetation restoration was the cumulative result of changes in soil fertility and vegetation features.