Baltimore Ecosystem Study Institute of Ecosystem Studies

2015 BES Annual Meeting Presentation and Poster Abstracts

Above- and belowground linkages: Plant diversity and soil fauna on vacant lots
Szlavecz, Katalin
Co-Authors: Heikki Setälä, D,Johan Kotze, Adam Dec, Christopher Swan

Abstract: The Baltimore Wildflower Project was established in 2014 in 25 vacant lots of West Baltimore. Functional and phylogenetic diversity of herbaceous plants were manipulated to monitor plant community assembly and ecosystem function. We conducted soil faunal surveys to determine if any combination of high and low functional and phylogenetic diversity affects the belowground community. In summer 2015 we sampled nematodes and enchytraeid worms, using wet extraction, and arthropods, using pitfall traps. Additionally, in 2014 we sampled earthworms, using mustard extraction. From the pitfall trap samples only ground beetles and isopods were analyzed, however, we also included crickets, as they were abundant in our samples. We expected the nematode community to be most responsive to plant diversity manipulations due to diversity of the root system. The epigeic macrofauna were not expected to show treatment effects because of high mobility and the closeness of individual treatments. Overall, the treatments showed high variation, and the total abundance of some groups, e.g. enchytraeids, was low. In the high functional- low phylogenetic treatment, ground beetles, isopods, and fungal and bacterial feeding nematodes were generally more abundant. Earthworm abundance was moderate, and species composition was typical to an “early successional” community. At this early stage of plant establishment, the location and age of vacant lots, as well as soil abiotic factors might be more important to the fauna than aboveground diversity.