Spatial variability of arbuscular mycorrhizal fungal spores in two natural plant communities
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Geostatistical techniques were used to assess the spatial patterns of spores of arbuscular mycorrhizal fungi (AMF) in soils from two contrasting plant communities: a salt marsh containing only arbuscular mycorrhizal and non-mycorrhizal plants in a distinct clumped distribution pattern and a maquis with different types of mycorrhiza where most plants were relatively randomly distributed. Also evaluated was the relationship between the spatial distribution of spores and AM plant distribution and soil properties. A nested sampling scheme was applied in both sites with sample cores taken from nested grids. Spores of AMF and soil characteristics (organic matter and moisture) were quantified in each core, and core sample location was related to plant location. Semivariograms for spore density indicated strong spatial autocorrelation and a patchy distribution within both sites for all AM fungal genera found. However, the patch size differed between the two plant communities and AM fungal genera. In the salt marsh, AM fungal spore distribution was correlated with distance to AM plants and projected stand area of AM plants. In maquis, spatial AM fungal spore distribution was correlated with organic matter. These results suggest that spore distribution of AMF varied between the two plant communities according to plant distribution and soil properties.
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