, Volume 19, Issue 5, pp 305-316
Date: 10 Mar 2009

Influence of soil nutrients on ectomycorrhizal communities in a chronosequence of mixed temperate forests

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Many factors associated with forests are collectively responsible for controlling ectomycorrhizal (ECM) fungal community structure, including plant species composition, forest structure, stand age, and soil nutrients. The objective of this study was to examine relationships among ECM fungal community measures, local soil nutrients, and stand age along a chronosequence of mixed forest stands that were similar in vegetation composition and site quality. Six combinations of age class (5-, 26-, 65-, and 100-year-old) and stand initiation type (wildfire and clearcut) were replicated on four sites, each representing critical seral stages of stand development in Interior Cedar-Hemlock (ICH) forests of southern British Columbia. We found significant relationships between ECM fungal diversity and both available and organic P; available P was also positively correlated with the abundance of two ECM taxa (Rhizopogon vinicolor group and Cenoccocum geophilum). By contrast, ECM fungal diversity varied unpredictably with total and mineralizable N or C to N ratio. We also found that soil C, N, available P, and forest floor depth did not exhibit strong patterns across stand ages. Overall, ECM fungal community structure was more strongly influenced by stand age than specific soil nutrients, but better correlations with soil nutrients may occur at broader spatial scales covering a wider range of site qualities.