Landscape Ecology

, Volume 2, Issue 3, pp 165–171

Wind dispersal and subsequent establishment of VA mycorrhizal fungi across a successional arid landscape

  • Michael F. Allen
  • Lawrence E. Hipps
  • Gene L. Wooldridge


Wind is an important vector in the dispersal of microorganisms to new habitats. However, wind dispersal is generally assumed to be random or logarithmically related to distance. We assessed the wind dispersal and subsequent establishment of an important group of plant symbionts, VA mycorrhizal fungi, across a 74 Ha recontoured surface mine. Winds were predominantly westerly aloft, but due to complex north-south ridges, up-valley, thermally-driven air flows developed. Patterns of spore dispersal were tested by a combination of released spore mimics from the potential source areas and by assessing the composition of species deposited across the site and in the putative source areas. Survival of the fungi was assessed two years after the dispersal patterns were monitored.

The spore mimics moved in predictable but complex patterns across the site depending on the interactions of surface and upper winds. Mimics from the valley sources moved up the valleys in the lower flows and occasionally over the ridges in the upper winds. Those from the ridge approximately 2 km distant were entrained in the upper air flows and deposited all across the site. The VA mycorrhizal fungal species compositions from the soils correlated with the deposition patterns measured with the mimics.

Fungal survival showed a pattern similar to dispersal; the fungi often survived in habitats not resembling the habitat of origin although some selection in both more favorable and less favorable sites occurred. These data suggest that microbial dispersal even by wind is predictable if the wind characteristics are known, that the VA mycorrhizal fungi from the site can survive in habitats different from their habitats of origin, but that some selection among species may occur after deposition.


Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.


  1. Allen, E.B. and Allen, M.F. 1986. Water relations of xeric grasses in the field: Interactions of mycorrhizae and competition. New Phytol. 104: 559–571.Google Scholar
  2. Allen, E.B. and Allen, M.F. 1988. Facilitation of succession by the non-mycotrophic colonizer Salsola kali (Chenopodiaceae) on a harsh site: Effects of mycorrhizal fungi. Amer. J. Bot. 75: 257–266.Google Scholar
  3. Allen, E.B. and Allen, M.F. 1989. The mediation of competition by mycorrhizae in successional and patch environments. In Perspectives on Plant Competition. Edited by J.B. Grace and G.D. Tilman. Academic Press, New York. In press.Google Scholar
  4. Allen, M.F. 1988a. Re-establishment of mycorrhizas following severe disturbance: Comparative patch dynamics of a shrub desert and a subalpine volcano. Proceedings of the Royal Society of Edinburgh 94(B): 63–71.Google Scholar
  5. Allen, M.F. 1988b. Belowground spatial patterning: influence of root architecture, microorganisms, and nutrients on plant survival in arid lands. In The Reconstruction of Disturbed Arid Ecosystems. pp. 113–135. Edited by E.B. Allen. West-view Press, Boulder, CO.Google Scholar
  6. Allen, M.F., Allen, E.B. and West, N.E. 1987. Influence of parasitic and mutualistic fungi on Artemisia tridentata during high precipitation years. Bull. Torrey Bot. Club 114: 272–279.Google Scholar
  7. Allen, M.F. and MacMahon, J.A. 1985. Impact of disturbance on cold desert fungi: Comparative microscale dispersion patterns. Pedobiologia 28: 215–224.Google Scholar
  8. Burdon, J.J. 1987. Diseases and plant population biology. Cambridge University Press, Cambridge.Google Scholar
  9. Caldwell, M.M., Eissenstat, D.M., Richards, J.H. and Allen, M.F. 1985. Competition for phosphorus: Differential uptake from dual-isotope-labeled soil interspaces between shrub and grass. Science 229: 384–386.Google Scholar
  10. Chiarello, N., Hickman, J.C. and Mooney, H.A. 1982. Endomycorhizal role for interspecific transfer of phosphorus in a community of annual plants. Science 217: 941–943.Google Scholar
  11. Elliott, J.M. 1971. Statistical analysis of samples of benthic invertebrates. Freshwater Biological Association, Ambleside, Westmorland.Google Scholar
  12. Grime, J.P., Mackey, J.M.L., Hillier, S.H. and Read, D.J. 1987. Floristic diversity in a model system using experimental microcosms. Nature (London) 328: 420–422.Google Scholar
  13. Hayman, D.S. 1984. Methods for evaluating and manipulating vesicular-arbuscular mycorrhiza. In Microbiological Methods of Environmental Biotechnology. pp. 95–117. Edited by J.M. Grainger and J.M. Lynch. Academic Press, New York.Google Scholar
  14. Ianson, D.C. and Allen, M.F. 1986. The effects of soil texture on extraction of vesicular-arbuscular mycorrhizal fungal spores from arid sites. Mycologia 78: 164–168.Google Scholar
  15. Lippincott, J.A. and Lippincott, B.B. 1984. Concepts and experimental approaches in host-microbe recognition. In Plant-Microbe Interactions, Molecular and Genetic Perspectives, Volume I. pp. 195–214. Edited by T. Kosuge and E.W. Nester. MacMillan Publishing Company, New York.Google Scholar
  16. Parmenter, R.R., MacMahon, J.A., Waaland, M.E., Stuebe, M.M., Landers, P. and Crisafulli, C.M. 1985. Reclamation of surface coal mines in Western Wyoming for wildlife habitat: A preliminary analysis. Recl. & Reveg. Res. 4: 93–115.Google Scholar
  17. Stahl, P.D. and Smith, W.K. 1984. Effects of different geographic isolates of Glomus on the water relations of Agropyron smithii. Mycologia 76: 261–267.Google Scholar
  18. Warner, N.J., Allen, M.F. and MacMahon, J.A. 1987. Dispersal agents of vesicular-arbuscular mycorrhizal fungi in a disturbed arid ecosystem. Mycologia 79: 721–730.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© SPB Academic Publishing bv 1989

Authors and Affiliations

  • Michael F. Allen
    • 1
  • Lawrence E. Hipps
    • 2
  • Gene L. Wooldridge
    • 2
  1. 1.Department of Biology and Systems Ecology Research GroupSan Diego State UniversitySan DiegoUSA
  2. 2.Department of Soil Science and BiometeorologyUtah State UniversityLoganUSA

Personalised recommendations