Publication Details

Category Text Publication
Reference Category Journals
DOI 10.1007/s11104-014-2373-5
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Title (Primary) Plant species diversity affects infiltration capacity in an experimental grassland through changes in soil properties
Author Fischer, C.; Tischer, J.; Roscher, C.; Eisenhauer, N.; Ravenek, J.; Gleixner, G.; Attinger, S.; Jensen, B.; de Kroon, H.; Mommer, L.; Scheu, S.; Hildebrandt, A.
Source Titel Plant and Soil
Year 2015
Department BZF; CHS; iDiv; PHYDIV
Volume 397
Issue 1
Page From 1
Page To 16
Language englisch
Keywords Infiltration capacity – Soil porosity – Soil organic carbon content – Plant species richness – The Jena experiment
UFZ wide themes RU1

Background and aims

Soil hydraulic properties drive water distribution and availability in soil. There exists limited knowledge of how plant species diversity might influence soil hydraulic properties.


We quantified the change in infiltration capacity affected by soil structural variables (soil bulk density, porosity and organic carbon content) along a gradient of soil texture, plant species richness (1, 2, 4, 8, 16 and 60) and functional group composition (grasses, legumes, small herbs, tall herbs). We conducted two infiltration measurement campaigns (May and October 2012) using a hood infiltrometer.


Plant species richness significantly increased infiltration capacity in the studied grasslands. Both soil porosity (or inversely bulk density) and organic carbon played an important role in mediating the plant species richness effect. Soil texture did not correlate with infiltration capacity. In spring 2012, earthworm biomass increased infiltration capacity, but this effect could not be attributed to changes in soil structural variables.


We experimentally identified important ecological drivers of infiltration capacity, suggesting complex interactions between plant species richness, earthworms, and soil structural variables, while showing little impact of soil texture. Changes in plant species richness may thus have significant effects on soil hydraulic properties with potential consequences for surface run-off and soil erosion.

Persistent UFZ Identifier
Fischer, C., Tischer, J., Roscher, C., Eisenhauer, N., Ravenek, J., Gleixner, G., Attinger, S., Jensen, B., de Kroon, H., Mommer, L., Scheu, S., Hildebrandt, A. (2015):
Plant species diversity affects infiltration capacity in an experimental grassland through changes in soil properties
Plant Soil 397 (1), 1 - 16 10.1007/s11104-014-2373-5