Journal of Forestry Research

, Volume 29, Issue 3, pp 675–686 | Cite as

Vegetation cover density and disturbance affected arbuscular mycorrhiza fungi spore density and root colonization in a dry Afromontane forest, northern Ethiopia

  • Emiru BirhaneEmail author
  • Nakiguli Fatumah
  • Kidane Gidey
  • Amanuel Zenebe
  • Ssemwanga Mohammed
Original Paper


Arbuscular mycorrhiza fungi (AMF) are vital in the regeneration of vegetation in disturbed ecosystems due to their numerous ecological advantages and therefore are good indicators of soil and ecosystem health at large. This study was aimed at determining how the seasonal, vegetation cover density, edaphic and anthropogenic factors affect AMF root colonization (RC) and spore density (SD) in Desa’a dry Afromontane forest. AMF RC and SD in the rhizosphere of five dominant woody species, Juniperus procera, Olea europaea, Maytenus arbutifolia, Carissa spinarum and Dodonaea angustifolia growing in Desa’a forest were studied during the rainy and the dry seasons in three permanent study vegetation cover density plots (dense, medium, and poor). Each plot (160 × 40 m2) has two management practices (fenced and unfenced plots) of area. A 100 g sample of rhizosphere soil from moisture-free composite soil was used to determine spore density. Spore density ranged from 50 to 4467 spores/100 g soil, and all species were colonized by AMF within a range of 4–95%. Glomus was the dominant genus in the rhizosphere of all species. Vegetation cover density strongly affected SD and RC. The SD was significantly higher (p < 0.05) in the poor vegetation cover density than in the other two and lowest in the dense cover; root colonization showed the reverse trend. Management practices significantly (p < 0.05) influenced AMF SD and RC, with the fenced plots being more favoured. Seasons significantly (p < 0.05) affected RC and SD. More RC and SD were observed in the wet period than the dry period. Correlating AMF SD and RC with soil physical and chemical properties showed no significant difference (p > 0.05) except for total nitrogen. Disturbance, vegetation cover density, season and total nitrogen are significant factors that control the dynamics and management interventions to maintain the forest health of dry Afromontane forests.


AM fungi Disturbance Dry Afromontane forest Season Vegetation cover density 



We would like to acknowledge the Transdisciplinary Training for Resource Efficiency and Climate Change Adaptation in Africa (TRECCAfrica), which funded the second author for the MSc. studies in Climate and Society at Mekelle University. We are also grateful to TRECCAfrica and Norwegian Programme for Capacity Development in Higher Education and Research for Development (NORHED) project which supported the field research including experimentation and data collection and analysis. The valuable suggestions made by anonymous referees is gratefully acknowledged.


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Copyright information

© Northeast Forestry University and Springer-Verlag GmbH Germany 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  • Emiru Birhane
    • 1
    • 2
    Email author
  • Nakiguli Fatumah
    • 3
    • 4
  • Kidane Gidey
    • 1
  • Amanuel Zenebe
    • 3
  • Ssemwanga Mohammed
    • 3
    • 4
  1. 1.Department of Land Resources Management and Environmental ProtectionMekelle UniversityMekelleEthiopia
  2. 2.Faculty of Environmental Sciences and Natural Resource ManagementNorwegian University of Life SciencesÅsNorway
  3. 3.Institute of Climate and SocietyMekelle UniversityMekelleEthiopia
  4. 4.Department of GeographyGeo-Informatics and Climatic Sciences, Makerere UniversityKampalaUganda

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