, Volume 15, Issue 6, pp 405–416 | Cite as

Mycorrhiza-plant colonization patterns on a subalpine glacier forefront as a model system of primary succession

  • Efrén CázaresEmail author
  • James M. Trappe
  • Ari Jumpponen
Original Paper


Lyman glacier in the North Cascades Mountains of Washington has a subalpine forefront characterized by a well-developed terminal moraine, inconspicuous successional moraines, fluting, and outwash. These deposits were depleted of symbiotic fungi when first exposed but colonized by them over time after exposure. Four major groups of plant species in this system are (1) mycorrhiza-independent or facultative mycotrophic, (2) dependent on arbuscular mycorrhizae (AM) (3) dependent on ericoid mycorrhiza (ERM) or ectomycorrhizae (EM), and (4) colonized by dark-septate (DS) endophytes. We hypothesized that availability of mycorrhizal propagules was related to the success of mycorrhiza-dependent plants in colonizing new substrates in naturally evolved ecosystems. To test this hypothesis roots samples of 66 plant species were examined for mycorrhizal colonization. The plants were sampled from communities at increasing distances from the glacier terminus to compare the newest communities with successively older ones. Long established, secondary successional dry meadow communities adjacent to the glacier forefront, and nearby high alpine communities were sampled for comparison. DS were common on most plant species on the forefront. Nonmycorrhizal plants predominated in the earlier successional sites, whereas the proportion of mycorrhizal plants generally increased with age of community. AM were present, mostly at low levels, and nearly absent in two sites of the forefront. ERM were present in all species of Ericaceae sampled, and EM in all species of Pinaceae and Salicaceae. Roots of plants in the long established meadow and heath communities adjacent to the forefront and the high alpine community all had one or another of the colonization types, with DS and AM predominating.


Arbuscular mycorrhizae Ectomycorrhizae Ericoid mycorrhizae Dark septate endophytes Fungal propagules 



These studies were supported by National Science Foundation Grant BSR-8717427 and the United States Forest Service, Pacific Northwest Research Station. Personnel of the Wenatchee National Forest were extremely helpful in facilitating the studies. Sid Burns, Dan Luoma, Mike Morneau and Thom O’Dell willingly helped whenever needed. The senior author thanks Consejo Nacional de Ciencia y Tecnología in México for their support.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2005

Authors and Affiliations

  • Efrén Cázares
    • 1
    Email author
  • James M. Trappe
    • 1
  • Ari Jumpponen
    • 2
  1. 1.Department of Forest ScienceOregon State UniversityCorvallisUSA
  2. 2.Division of BiologyKansas State UniversityManhattanUSA

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