95th ESA Annual Meeting (August 1 -- 6, 2010)

COS 35-8 - Inoculation with a native soil community advances succession in a grassland restoration

Tuesday, August 3, 2010: 4:00 PM
333, David L Lawrence Convention Center
Elizabeth L. Middleton, Resource Science, Missouri Department of Conservation, Clinton, MO and James D. Bever, Department of Biology, Indiana University, Bloomington, IN

Restoration on post-agricultural land may be hindered by the degradation of the soil community, which has been shown to contribute to structuring plant communities and driving succession.  We evaluated the role of inoculation with native soil communities on the survival and establishment of early and late successional prairie species. We tested the following factors: nurse plants, prairie and old field soil community, and distance to inoculation point on survival and growth of uninoculated early and late successional plant species. In 2007 and 2008, we planted uninoculated early, mid, and late successional plant species 0.25 to 2 m away from a central point of inoculation; introduced with or without nurse plants. We measured survival and growth of all nurse and test plant species in May and July from 2007-2009.


We found a significant negative response to inoculation on early successional plants and a significant positive response to inoculation on mid to late successional plants.  This response to inoculation was from 0.25 to 1 m away from the central point of inoculation; indicating that inoculation can affect plants beyond those that are directly grown with the soil community. This work suggests that the restoration of the soil community is critical to establishing a later successional plant community and that benefit of inoculated plants can spread to neighbors.