Intensive grassland management disrupts below-ground multi-trophic resource transfer in response to drought

Mathilde Chomel, Jocelyn M Lavallee, Nil Alvarez-Segura, Elizabeth M Baggs, Tancredi Caruso, Francisco de Castro, Mark C Emmerson, Matthew Magilton, Jennifer M Rhymes, Franciska T de Vries, David Johnson, Richard D Bardgett

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract / Description of output

Modification of soil food webs by land management may alter the response of ecosystem processes to climate extremes, but empirical support is limited and the mechanisms involved remain unclear. Here we quantify how grassland management modifies the transfer of recent photosynthates and soil nitrogen through plants and soil food webs during a post-drought period in a controlled field experiment, using in situ 13C and 15N pulse-labelling in intensively and extensively managed fields. We show that intensive management decrease plant carbon (C) capture and its transfer through components of food webs and soil respiration compared to extensive management. We observe a legacy effect of drought on C transfer pathways mainly in intensively managed grasslands, by increasing plant C assimilation and 13C released as soil CO2 efflux but decreasing its transfer to roots, bacteria and Collembola. Our work provides insight into the interactive effects of grassland management and drought on C transfer pathways, and highlights that capture and rapid transfer of photosynthates through multi-trophic networks are key for maintaining grassland resistance to drought.

Original languageEnglish
Article number6991
JournalNature Communications
Issue number1
Early online date16 Nov 2022
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2022


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