Biol Fertil Soils 2013;49(8):1097-1107. Epub 2013 Apr 26.
Institute of Zoology, Department of Integrative Biology and Biodiversity Research, University of Natural Resources and Life Sciences, Vienna, Gregor Mendel Straße 33, 1180 Vienna, Austria ; Research Institute of Organic Agriculture (FiBL), Seidengasse 33-35, 1070 Vienna, Austria.
Earthworms (Annelida: Oligochaeta) deposit several tons per hectare of casts enriched in nutrients and/or arbuscular mycorrhizal fungi (AMF) and create a spatial and temporal soil heterogeneity that can play a role in structuring plant communities. However, while we begin to understand the role of surface casts, it is still unclear to what extent plants utilize subsurface casts. We conducted a greenhouse experiment using large mesocosms (volume 45 l) to test whether (1) soil microsites consisting of earthworm casts with or without AMF (four taxa) affect the biomass production of 11 grassland plant species comprising the three functional groups grasses, forbs, and legumes, (2) different ecological groups of earthworms (soil dwellers- vs. Read More