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Keywords:

  • competition;
  • disturbance;
  • life history;
  • mycorrhizas;
  • plant traits;
  • population and community dynamics;
  • primary and secondary succession;
  • soil legacy

Summary

  1. Plant effects on soil biota can result in feedbacks affecting plant performance, with consequences for plant community and ecosystem dynamics on short and long time-scales. In addition, the strength and direction of plant–soil feedbacks depend on temporal shifts in abiotic environmental conditions.

  2. We synthesize current knowledge on temporal aspects of plant–soil feedbacks and present new ideas to better understand and predict the effects of plant–soil feedbacks on community and ecosystem properties across temporal scales.

  3. Explaining short-term temporal feedback dynamics requires us to better understand mechanistic linkages between plants, soil organisms and locally available resources. On the other hand, we need to refine our understanding of the context-dependency of plant–soil feedbacks, as the strength and direction of feedback interactions are influenced by ‘external’ temporal ecosystem dynamics, such as variation in soil resource availability after disturbance or during succession.

  4. Synthesis. Based on our synthesis of temporal aspects of plant–soil feedbacks, we suggest three main avenues for future research: (i) how plant–soil feedbacks changes with ontogeny, (ii) how plant and soil organism traits drive temporal variation in plant–soil feedbacks and (iii) how environmental changes across temporal scales alter the strength and direction of plant–soil feedbacks.