Ecological Research

, Volume 31, Issue 2, pp 263–274 | Cite as

Leaf phenological shifts and plant–microbe–soil interactions can determine forest productivity and nutrient cycling under climate change in an ecosystem model

Original Article


Climate change is expected to affect tree leaf phenology by extending the length of the growing season (LGS), which will affect the productivity and nutrient cycling of forests. Interactions between plants and microbes will mediate the ecosystem processes further through microbe-mediated plant–soil feedback (PSF). To investigate the possible consequences of interactions between the extension of the growing season (GS) and PSF under various conditions, we developed a simple theoretical model (LGS-PSF model). The LGS-PSF model predicts that microbe-mediated PSF will intensify the negative effects of increasing temperature on the size of soil carbon stock when compared with simulations without the PSF effect. The combined effects of increasing temperature and PSF on the size of soil carbon stock occurs through enhanced activity of individual microbes and increased microbial population size. More importantly, the model also demonstrated that a longer GS mitigates this negative effect on carbon accumulation in soil, not through increased net primary production, but through intensified competition for nutrients between plants and microbes, thus suppressing microbial population growth. Our model suggested that the interactive effects of the LGS and PSF on carbon and nitrogen dynamics in forests should be incorporated into larger scale quantitative models for better forecasting of future forest functions under climate change.


Carbon and nitrogen cycling Decomposition Growing season Plant–soil feedback Temperature 

Supplementary material

11284_2016_1333_MOESM1_ESM.pdf (944 kb)
Supplementary material 1 (PDF 944 kb)


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Copyright information

© The Ecological Society of Japan 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Institute of OceanographyNational Taiwan UniversityTaipeiTaiwan
  2. 2.Research Center for Environmental ChangesAcademia SinicaTaipeiTaiwan
  3. 3.Institute for Sustainable Sciences and DevelopmentHiroshima UniversityHigashi-HiroshimaJapan
  4. 4.Graduate School of Simulation StudiesUniversity of HyogoKobeJapan

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