Linkages between plant functional diversity, soil microbial communities and ecosystem services in agricultural grassland

BBSRC

The overarching goal of this project is to test the idea that multiple ecosystems services, such as carbon storage, nutrient retention and reduced greenhouse gas emissions in grassland can be enhanced with management of the diversity and composition of the plant community. Using a combination of field and pot experiments based in the Yorkshire Dales we are testing the specific hypothesis that soil biogeochemical cycling underpinning ecosystem service delivery can be predicted from plant species traits, and hence that easily measured plant traits could provide a means to scale-up from the properties of individual species to ecosystem processes in diverse grassland systems. The ultimate goal of this research is to advance our understanding of the role of interactions between above- and below-ground diversity for multi-functional objectives of grassland agriculture, and to test the potential for plant diversity to be utilized to manipulate soil nutrient cycling towards greater carbon and nitrogen storage, and lower greenhouse gas emission. The project is funded by BBSRC and involves partnerships with Liz Baggs and Dave Johnson at the University of Aberdeen and Nick Ostle at CEH Lancaster.

Linkages between plant functional diversity, soil microbial communities and ecosystem services in agricultural grassland