Soil microbial communities in restored and unrestored coastal dune ecosystems in California

Lorraine S. Parsons, Jordan Sayre, Cody Ender, Jorge L.M. Rodrigues, Albert Barberán

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

16 Scopus citations


Most restoration projects involving invasive plant eradication tend to focus on plant removal with little consideration given to how these invasives change soil microbial communities. However, soil microorganisms can determine invasibility of habitats and, in turn, be altered by invasives once established, potentially inhibiting native plant establishment. We studied soil microbial communities in coastal dunes with varying invasion intensity and different restoration approaches (herbicide, mechanical excavation) at Point Reyes National Seashore. Overall, we found evidence of a strong link between bacterial and fungal soil communities and the presence of invasives and restoration approach. Heavily invaded sites were characterized by a lower abundance of putatively identified nitrifiers, fermentative bacteria, fungal parasites, and fungal dung saprotrophs and a higher abundance of cellulolytic bacteria and a class of arbuscular mycorrhizal fungi (Archaeosporomycetes). Changes in soil microbiota did not fully dissipate following removal of invasives using herbicide, with exception of reductions in cellulolytic bacteria and Archaeosporomycetes abundance. Mechanical restoration effectively removed both invasives and soil legacy effects by inverting or “flipping” rhizome-contaminated surface soils with soils from below and may have inadvertently induced other adverse effects on soils that impeded reestablishment of native dune plants. Land managers should consider additional measures to counteract lingering legacy effects and/or focus restoration efforts in areas where legacy effects are less pronounced.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)S311-S321
JournalRestoration Ecology
Issue numberS4
StatePublished - Sep 1 2020


  • dune
  • herbicide
  • invasive plant
  • microbial
  • restoration
  • soil

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics
  • Ecology
  • Nature and Landscape Conservation


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