Plant-soil feedbacks of Castanea dentata reintroduction
Coughlin, Erin Maray
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Plant interactions with soil biota result in plant-soil feedbacks, which have effects on plant growth and survival and broader community-level consequences. These interactions should be considered in restoration and species reintroduction, yet little work has integrated this perspective. Here we investigate the ecological consequences and management requirements of hybrid Castanea dentata reintroduction by studying plant-soil feedbacks of this species and other forest dominants. We conducted a fully reciprocal greenhouse experiment testing the effect of species-specific soil inoculum on seedling growth and survival. Our results suggest that C. dentata and hybrids have similar belowground interactions and are regulated by negative plant-soil feedbacks. Our results suggest that Q. alba and L. tulipifera-dominated forests provide favorable planting conditions for hybrids, and we predict that reintroduction may promote Q. alba. We conclude that plant-soil feedbacks are vital processes in forest ecosystems and should be incorporated into management plans for species reintroduction.