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Title (Primary) How do earthworms, soil texture and plant composition affect infiltration along an experimental plant diversity gradient in grassland?
Author Fischer, C.; Roscher, C.; Jensen, B.; Eisenhauer, N.; Baade, J.; Attinger, S.; Scheu, S.; Weisser, W.W.; Schumacher, J.; Hildebrandt, A.;
Journal PLOS ONE
Year 2014
Department BZF; CHS;
Volume 9
Issue 6
Language englisch;
POF III (all) T11;
UFZ wide themes RU5
Abstract

Background

Infiltration is a key process in determining the water balance, but so far effects of earthworms, soil texture, plant species diversity and their interaction on infiltration capacity have not been studied.

Methodology/Principal Findings

We measured infiltration capacity in subplots with ambient and reduced earthworm density nested in plots of different plant species (1, 4, and 16 species) and plant functional group richness and composition (1 to 4 groups; legumes, grasses, small herbs, tall herbs). In summer, earthworm presence significantly increased infiltration, whereas in fall effects of grasses and legumes on infiltration were due to plant-mediated changes in earthworm biomass. Effects of grasses and legumes on infiltration even reversed effects of texture. We propose two pathways: (i) direct, probably by modifying the pore spectrum and (ii) indirect, by enhancing or suppressing earthworm biomass, which in turn influenced infiltration capacity due to change in burrowing activity of earthworms.

Conclusions/Significance

Overall, the results suggest that spatial and temporal variations in soil hydraulic properties can be explained by biotic processes, especially the presence of certain plant functional groups affecting earthworm biomass, while soil texture had no significant effect. Therefore biotic parameters should be taken into account in hydrological applications.

ID 15044
Persistent UFZ Identifier http://www.ufz.de/index.php?en=20939&ufzPublicationIdentifier=15044
Fischer, C., Roscher, C., Jensen, B., Eisenhauer, N., Baade, J., Attinger, S., Scheu, S., Weisser, W.W., Schumacher, J., Hildebrandt, A. (2014):
How do earthworms, soil texture and plant composition affect infiltration along an experimental plant diversity gradient in grassland?
PLOS One 9 (6), e98987