Pathogen-induced tree mortality interacts with predicted climate change to alter soil respiration and nutrient availability in Mediterranean systems

TitlePathogen-induced tree mortality interacts with predicted climate change to alter soil respiration and nutrient availability in Mediterranean systems
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication2019
AuthorsAvila J.M, Gallardo A., Gomez-Aparicio L.
Date PublishedJan
Type of ArticleArticle
ISBN Number0168-2563
Accession NumberWOS:000454598000004
Keywordsanion-exchange membranes, Aridity, Climate change, drought, ecosystem carbon, Environmental Sciences & Ecology, Forest disease, forests, Geology, Global change, implications, litter decomposition, long-term changes, Mediterranean shrubs, microbial biomass, Non-additive effects, nutritional-status, Oak decline, Pathogen, phosphatase-activity, Phytophthora cinnamomi, phytophthora-cinnamomi, Plant diversity, Quercus suber, Soil nutrients, Soil respiration, Warming

Ecosystems worldwide must simultaneously cope with several global change drivers with potential strong effects on ecosystem functioning. These drivers might interact in unexpected ways, but our still limited understanding of these interactive effects precludes us from predicting the impact of global change on ecosystem functioning. In this study we assessed the direct effects of pathogen-induced tree mortality and predicted warming and drought on C, N and P in Mediterranean forest soils affected by the decline of their dominant tree species (i.e. Quercus suber) due to the invasive pathogen Phytophthora cinnamomi. We also explored the potential indirect effects due to species replacement after Q. suber mortality. To achieve our goal, we conducted a soil incubation experiment using soils collected under Q. suber trees with different health status (i.e. healthy, defoliated and dead trees) and from coexistent shrubs (i.e. pioneer and late successional shrubs). These soils were incubated under controlled temperatures and soil moistures, mimicking various climate change scenarios predicted for 2050 and 2100 in the Mediterranean Basin. Our results showed that P. cinnamomi-induced mortality and future warming and drought may interact to simultaneously alter biogeochemical cycles in Q. suber forest soils. Resistance of studied variables to changes in temperature and moisture tended to be lower for dead trees than for healthy and defoliated trees. Moreover, we found that soil respiration and nutrient availability might be affected indirectly by P. cinnamomi-induced mortality due to species replacement. Overall, our results support a high potential of invasive pathogen species for modifying the response of soil functioning to climatic stressors.

Alternate JournalBiogeochemistry