Global Drylands Center Seminar:
Control of Ecosystem Processes by Soil Microbial Communities
Francisco I. Pugnaire
- Estación Experimental de Zonas Áridas, Consejo Superior de Investigaciones Científicas, Almería, Spain
Soil biodiversity modulates fundamental ecosystem services and processes such as nutrient cycling, carbon sequestration, greenhouse gas emissions, or biological invasions although its contribution to such processes is not fully understood. We know that soil organisms affect plants through processes that cascade along the whole system and that aboveground processes influencing plant growth also impact soil food webs. Therefore bridging the gap between below- and aboveground processes, and the feedbacks between them, is a major challenge to our understanding of ecosystem dynamics. There are multiple examples of how soil microbial communities influence plant growth and understory species richness in nurse plant systems, modulate competitive hierarchies, are involved in secondary succession and, ultimately, control community dynamics and ecosystem services. Therefore, soil communities are main drivers of ecosystem function and instrumental in plant community responses to climate change through plant-soil feedbacks.
2:00 - 3:00 p.m.