The influence of soil age on ecosystem structure and function across biomes

Delgado-Baquerizo, Manuel; Reich, Peter B.; Bardgett, Richard D.; Eldridge, David J.; Lambers, Hans; Wardle, David A.; Reed, Sasha C.; Plaza, Cesar; Png, G. Kenny; Neuhauser, Sigrid; Berhe, Asmeret Asefaw; Hart, Stephen C.; Hu, Hang-Wei; He, Ji-Zheng; Bastida, Felipe; et. al.


The importance of soil age as an ecosystem driver across biomes remains largely unresolved. By combining a cross-biome global field survey, including data for 32 soil, plant, and microbial properties in 16 soil chronosequences, with a global meta-analysis, we show that soil age is a significant ecosystem driver, but only accounts for a relatively small proportion of the cross-biome variation in multiple ecosystem properties. Parent material, climate, vegetation and topography predict, collectively, 24 times more variation in ecosystem properties than soil age alone. Soil age is an important local-scale ecosystem driver; however, environmental context, rather than soil age, determines the rates and trajectories of ecosystem development in structure and function across biomes. Our work provides insights into the natural history of terrestrial ecosystems. We propose that, regardless of soil age, changes in the environmental context, such as those associated with global climatic and land-use changes, will have important long-term impacts on the structure and function of terrestrial ecosystems across biomes. Soil age is thought to be an important driver of ecosystem development. Here, the authors perform a global survey of soil chronosequences and meta-analysis to show that, contrary to expectations, soil age is a relatively minor ecosystem driver at the biome scale once other drivers such as parent material, climate, and vegetation type are accounted for.

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Título según WOS: The influence of soil age on ecosystem structure and function across biomes
Título de la Revista: Nature Communications
Volumen: 11
Número: 1
Fecha de publicación: 2020


Notas: ISI