Yellow-meadow ant (Lasius flavus) mound development determines soil properties and growth responses of different plant functional types

Antje Ehrle, Alan N. Andersen, Shaun R. Levick, Jens Schumacher, Susan E. Trumbore, Beate Michalzik

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

    Abstract

    The yellow-meadow ant (Lasius flavus) is a common mound-building species of central European grasslands. Lasius flavus activity has been shown to change the amounts of plant nutrients in their mound soil substrate. It is unknown how the maturity of such mounds influences nutrient status and affects plant growth. We quantified bulk soil and extractable nutrient contents of three mound development stages (young, middle-aged and fully-developed) in comparison to the surrounding soil (control), and in a bioassay using species of three plant functional types (grass, non nitrogen (N)-fixing forb, N-fixing forb) linked these to plant growth and chemistry. Our results showed that development stage was an important predictor of a mound's nutritional status. Lasius flavus activity results in decreases in bulk soil organic carbon, total nitrogen, sulfur, extractable manganese and zinc, and increases in bulk soil clay, pH, base cations, iron, phosphorous, boron, extractable calcium and potassium. The relative amounts of accumulated biomass, the proportion allocated to shoots or roots, and the N content of these tissues all differed among plant species. The N-fixing forb gained the highest total biomass and had the greatest allocation to shoots on soils of fully-developed mounds. The grass responded to all mound development stages with increased root biomass, whereas no effect was detected for the non N-fixing forb. The root N contents of the grass and the non N-fixing forb decreased with mound development stage. The findings highlight the importance of established L. flavus mounds as discrete micro-habitats in grassland ecosystems adding to biogeochemical heterogeneity.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)83-93
    Number of pages11
    JournalEuropean Journal of Soil Biology
    Volume81
    DOIs
    Publication statusPublished - Aug 2017

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    Ants
    growth response
    meadow
    ant
    plant response
    soil properties
    soil property
    Soil
    Growth
    Poaceae
    Biomass
    grass
    grasses
    soil
    biomass
    Food
    shoot
    grasslands
    middle-aged adults
    Ecosystem

    Cite this

    Ehrle, Antje ; Andersen, Alan N. ; Levick, Shaun R. ; Schumacher, Jens ; Trumbore, Susan E. ; Michalzik, Beate. / Yellow-meadow ant (Lasius flavus) mound development determines soil properties and growth responses of different plant functional types. In: European Journal of Soil Biology. 2017 ; Vol. 81. pp. 83-93.
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    title = "Yellow-meadow ant (Lasius flavus) mound development determines soil properties and growth responses of different plant functional types",
    abstract = "The yellow-meadow ant (Lasius flavus) is a common mound-building species of central European grasslands. Lasius flavus activity has been shown to change the amounts of plant nutrients in their mound soil substrate. It is unknown how the maturity of such mounds influences nutrient status and affects plant growth. We quantified bulk soil and extractable nutrient contents of three mound development stages (young, middle-aged and fully-developed) in comparison to the surrounding soil (control), and in a bioassay using species of three plant functional types (grass, non nitrogen (N)-fixing forb, N-fixing forb) linked these to plant growth and chemistry. Our results showed that development stage was an important predictor of a mound's nutritional status. Lasius flavus activity results in decreases in bulk soil organic carbon, total nitrogen, sulfur, extractable manganese and zinc, and increases in bulk soil clay, pH, base cations, iron, phosphorous, boron, extractable calcium and potassium. The relative amounts of accumulated biomass, the proportion allocated to shoots or roots, and the N content of these tissues all differed among plant species. The N-fixing forb gained the highest total biomass and had the greatest allocation to shoots on soils of fully-developed mounds. The grass responded to all mound development stages with increased root biomass, whereas no effect was detected for the non N-fixing forb. The root N contents of the grass and the non N-fixing forb decreased with mound development stage. The findings highlight the importance of established L. flavus mounds as discrete micro-habitats in grassland ecosystems adding to biogeochemical heterogeneity.",
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    Yellow-meadow ant (Lasius flavus) mound development determines soil properties and growth responses of different plant functional types. / Ehrle, Antje; Andersen, Alan N.; Levick, Shaun R.; Schumacher, Jens; Trumbore, Susan E.; Michalzik, Beate.

    In: European Journal of Soil Biology, Vol. 81, 08.2017, p. 83-93.

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

    TY - JOUR

    T1 - Yellow-meadow ant (Lasius flavus) mound development determines soil properties and growth responses of different plant functional types

    AU - Ehrle, Antje

    AU - Andersen, Alan N.

    AU - Levick, Shaun R.

    AU - Schumacher, Jens

    AU - Trumbore, Susan E.

    AU - Michalzik, Beate

    PY - 2017/8

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    N2 - The yellow-meadow ant (Lasius flavus) is a common mound-building species of central European grasslands. Lasius flavus activity has been shown to change the amounts of plant nutrients in their mound soil substrate. It is unknown how the maturity of such mounds influences nutrient status and affects plant growth. We quantified bulk soil and extractable nutrient contents of three mound development stages (young, middle-aged and fully-developed) in comparison to the surrounding soil (control), and in a bioassay using species of three plant functional types (grass, non nitrogen (N)-fixing forb, N-fixing forb) linked these to plant growth and chemistry. Our results showed that development stage was an important predictor of a mound's nutritional status. Lasius flavus activity results in decreases in bulk soil organic carbon, total nitrogen, sulfur, extractable manganese and zinc, and increases in bulk soil clay, pH, base cations, iron, phosphorous, boron, extractable calcium and potassium. The relative amounts of accumulated biomass, the proportion allocated to shoots or roots, and the N content of these tissues all differed among plant species. The N-fixing forb gained the highest total biomass and had the greatest allocation to shoots on soils of fully-developed mounds. The grass responded to all mound development stages with increased root biomass, whereas no effect was detected for the non N-fixing forb. The root N contents of the grass and the non N-fixing forb decreased with mound development stage. The findings highlight the importance of established L. flavus mounds as discrete micro-habitats in grassland ecosystems adding to biogeochemical heterogeneity.

    AB - The yellow-meadow ant (Lasius flavus) is a common mound-building species of central European grasslands. Lasius flavus activity has been shown to change the amounts of plant nutrients in their mound soil substrate. It is unknown how the maturity of such mounds influences nutrient status and affects plant growth. We quantified bulk soil and extractable nutrient contents of three mound development stages (young, middle-aged and fully-developed) in comparison to the surrounding soil (control), and in a bioassay using species of three plant functional types (grass, non nitrogen (N)-fixing forb, N-fixing forb) linked these to plant growth and chemistry. Our results showed that development stage was an important predictor of a mound's nutritional status. Lasius flavus activity results in decreases in bulk soil organic carbon, total nitrogen, sulfur, extractable manganese and zinc, and increases in bulk soil clay, pH, base cations, iron, phosphorous, boron, extractable calcium and potassium. The relative amounts of accumulated biomass, the proportion allocated to shoots or roots, and the N content of these tissues all differed among plant species. The N-fixing forb gained the highest total biomass and had the greatest allocation to shoots on soils of fully-developed mounds. The grass responded to all mound development stages with increased root biomass, whereas no effect was detected for the non N-fixing forb. The root N contents of the grass and the non N-fixing forb decreased with mound development stage. The findings highlight the importance of established L. flavus mounds as discrete micro-habitats in grassland ecosystems adding to biogeochemical heterogeneity.

    KW - Bioassay

    KW - Cold water extracts

    KW - Micro habitats

    KW - Nutrient contents

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    U2 - 10.1016/j.ejsobi.2017.06.006

    DO - 10.1016/j.ejsobi.2017.06.006

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