, Volume 155, Issue 2, pp 129-137

Arbuscular mycorrhiza in relation to management history, soil nutrients and plant species diversity

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Abstract

Thelow nutrient status of semi-natural grasslands, pastures and meadows,reflects a continuity of nutrient reduction by grazing and hay-making. Ithas been hypothesized that the nutrient depletion itself may reduce competitionbetween individuals, and that mycorrhiza smooths out differences in nutrientuptake and competitive ability, so that competition for nutrients is evenfurther reduced. This interaction between site history, nutrient status andmycorrhiza could thus be one explanation for a high species diversity usuallyfound in semi-natural grasslands. To determine variation in colonizationof arbuscular mycorrhizal fungi (AM), three species(Achillea millefolium L., Ranunculusacris L. and Anthriscus sylvestris L.) weresampled at sites with different management history. All three species hadmycorrhizal colonization. Correlations between species diversity patterns atdifferent spatial scales (0.04,1 and total species number in the site) andmycorrhizal colonization were examined. In addition, soil samples were analysedconcerning P, K, N and pH. When combining measures for the three speciestogether there were significantly higher AM colonization at sites with a longcontinuous management regime, compared to sites with short or interruptedmanagement regime. A significantly positive correlation was also found betweenplant species diversity and colonization of mycorrhiza. Soil nutrient status androot weight density did not differ among the sites with different managementregime. This indicates that increasing nutrient status, or root competition, arenot likely causal mechanisms behind a reduced AM colonization rate at sites withshort or interrupted management regime. The correlation with species diversityis more likely a result of management continuity itself. A long continuousmanagement is associated with an increasing likelihood of successful dispersalof plant species as well as of fungal species.