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Plants alter soil characteristics causing changes in their subsequent growth resulting in positive or negative feedback on both their own fitness and that of other plants. In a greenhouse study, we investigated whether the sign and strength of feedback changed across two distinct soil types, and whether effects were due to shifts in biotic or abiotic soil traits. Using soils from two different locations, we examined growth of the exotic invasive shrub, Lonicera maackii and the related native shrub, Diervilla lonicera, in unconditioned soils and in soils conditioned by previous growth of L. maackii, D. lonicera, and Fraxinus pennsylvanica. In a sandy acidic soil, L. maackii showed positive feedback in unsterilized soils, but its growth decreased and positive feedback became negative with sterilization in this soil. In a loamy circumneutral soil, L. maackii displayed neutral to negative feedback in unsterilized soils, but sterilization significantly increased growth in all conditioning treatments and caused feedback to become strongly negative. Native D. lonicera displayed negative feedback in unsterilized soil of both the sandy and loamy types, but sterilization either eliminated or reversed feedback relationships. Soil conditioning by L. maackii and F. pennsylvanica had very similar feedbacks on L. maackiiand D. lonicera. While some abiotic soil traits varied across soil types and were affected by conditioning, soil biota sensitive to sterilization were apparently important mediators of both positive and negative feedback effects


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