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Bioturbation by bandicoots facilitates seedling growth by altering soil properties

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dc.contributor Univ Western Australia
dc.contributor Dept Biodivers Conservat & Attract
dc.contributor Australian Inst Marine Sci
dc.contributor Sch Vet & Life Sci
dc.contributor Australian Institute Of Marine Science
dc.contributor Murdoch Univ
dc.contributor Sch Biol Sci
dc.contributor University Of Western Australia
dc.contributor Kings Pk Sci
dc.contributor Uwa Oceans Inst
dc.contributor Murdoch University HOBBS, RICHARD J. VALENTINE, LEONIE E. RUTHROF, KATINKA X. HARDY, GILES E. ST. J. FLEMING, PATRICIA A. FISHER, REBECCA 2018-09-23T18:48:58Z 2018-09-23T18:48:58Z 2018-11-01T03:27:58Z 2018-09-23T18:48:58Z 2018-09-23T18:48:58Z 2018-11-01T03:27:58Z 2018-09-01
dc.identifier.citation Valentine LE, Ruthrof KX, Fisher R, Hardy GESJ, Hobbs RJ, Fleming PA (2018) Bioturbation by bandicoots facilitates seedling growth by altering soil properties. Functional Ecology 32: 2138-2148
dc.identifier.issn 0269-8463
dc.description.abstract 1. Animals that forage for food via bioturbation can alter their habitat, influencing soil turnover, nutrient cycling and seedling recruitment, effectively acting as ecosystem engineers. Many digging mammals forage for food by digging small pits and creating spoil heaps with the discarded soil. We examined how small-scale bioturbation, created by the foraging actions of an ecosystem engineer, can alter soil nutrients and subsequently improve growth of plants. 2. We investigated the microbial and chemical properties of soil disturbed by the foraging of an Australian marsupial bandicoot, quenda (Isoodon fusciventer). Soil was collected from the base of 20 recent foraging pits (pit), the associated spoil heaps (spoil) and adjacent undisturbed soil (control) and analysed for nutrients (phosphorus, potassium, sulphur, organic carbon and conductivity) and microbial activity. Soil cores were collected from the same locations and seeds of the dominant canopy species, tuart (Eucalyptus gomphocephala), added to the soil under glasshouse conditions. The growth of seedlings was measured (height, maximum growth, basal stem width, shoot and root biomass) over a 4-month period and arbuscular mycorrhizae (AM) fungi colonisation rates of seedling roots investigated. 3. Soil from the spoil heaps had the greatest levels of conductivity and potassium. Both the spoil and undisturbed soil had greater amounts of microbial activity and organic carbon. In contrast, the pits had less nutrients and microbial activity. 4. Seedlings grown in spoil soil were taller, heavier, with thicker stems and grew at a faster rate than seedlings in the pit or control soil. Colonisation with AM fungi was greatest for seedlings grown in pit soil. The best predictors of seedling growth were greater amounts of potassium, electrical conductivity and microbial activity. The best predictor of higher colonisation rates of AM fungi was less phosphorus. 5. Bioturbation by ecosystem engineers, like quenda, can alter soil nutrients and microbial activity, facilitating seedling growth. We propose this may be caused by enhanced litter decomposition beneath the discarded spoil heaps. As the majority of Australian digging mammals are threatened, with many suffering substantial population and range contractions, the loss of these species will have long-term impacts on ecosystem processes.
dc.description.sponsorship Centre of Excellence for Environmental Decisions, Australian Research Council; Australian Government National Environmental Science Program Threatened Species Recovery Hub; Western Australian Centre of Excellence for Climate Change, Woodland and Forest Health; Western Australian Department of Biodiversity, Conservation and Attractions (DBCA)
dc.language English
dc.subject Woodland Soils
dc.subject Mammals
dc.subject Ecology
dc.subject Total Microbial Activity
dc.subject Ecosystem Engineer
dc.subject Desert
dc.subject Plant-animal Interactions
dc.subject Arbuscular Mycorrhizal Fungi
dc.subject Arbuscular Mycorrhizas
dc.subject Environmental Sciences & Ecology
dc.subject Ecosystem Engineers
dc.subject Digging Mammals
dc.subject Use Efficiency
dc.subject Decomposition
dc.subject Bandicoot
dc.subject Litter
dc.subject Plant-animal-microbe Interactions
dc.subject Foraging Pits
dc.title Bioturbation by bandicoots facilitates seedling growth by altering soil properties
dc.type journal article
dc.identifier.doi 10.1111/1365-2435.13179
dc.identifier.wos WOS:000443560300004

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