Research conducted by the Laboratory of Nematology is part of the research program of the Graduate School Experimental Plant Sciences (EPS) and the C.T. de Wit Graduate School for Production Ecology & Resource Conservation (PE&RC).
Currently rapid climate change is expected to strongly influence plant and soil composition and function. The distribution of many terrestrial plants, microbes and other organisms are expanding their ranges to previously colder areas in response to climate warming. Climate change also increases the incidence of extreme weather events, such as drought and flooding, which have direct or indirect impacts on above-belowground biota and their legacy effects.
What I expect to find in my study is how soil legacy effects of extreme weather events influence belowground-aboveground interactions of range-expanding versus native plant species. In my proposed study, we expect that after a previous years drought, range expanders may have a differently active soil microbial community, and decompose the litter more quickly than related native plant species. The range expanders are expected to have more positive plant-soil feedbacks, which would enhance adaption to the new habitats.