Publication details

Mycorrhizal status is a poor predictor of the distribution of herbaceous species along the gradient of soil nutrient availability in coastal and grassland habitats



Year of publication 2021
Type Article in Periodical
Magazine / Source Mycorrhiza
MU Faculty or unit

Faculty of Science

Keywords Arbuscular mycorrhiza; Community mycorrhization; Eutrophication; Meta-analysis; Nutrient availability; Quantile regression
Description Plant mycorrhizal status (a trait indicating the ability to form mycorrhizas) can be a useful plant trait for predicting changes in vegetation influenced by increased fertility. Mycorrhizal fungi enhance nutrient uptake and are expected to provide a competitive advantage for plants growing in nutrient-poor soils; while in nutrient-rich soils, mycorrhizal symbiosis may be disadvantageous. Some studies in natural systems have shown that mycorrhizal plants can be more frequent in P and N-poor soils (low nutrient availability) or Ca and Mg-high (high pH) soils, but empirical support is still not clear. Using vegetation and soil data from Scottish coastal habitats, and Latvian and Czech grasslands, we examined whether there is a link between plant mycorrhizal status and plant-available P, N, Ca and Mg. We performed the max test analysis (to examine the central tendency) and a combination of quantile regression and meta-analysis (to examine tendencies in different quantiles) on both community and plant species data combined with plant phylogenies. We consistently found no changes in mycorrhizal status at the community and species levels along the gradients of plant-available P, N, Ca and Mg in the central tendency and in almost all quantiles across all datasets. Thus, we found no support for the hypotheses that herbaceous species which are able to form mycorrhizas are more frequent in nutrient-poor and high pH environments. Obligatory, facultatively and non-mycorrhizal herbaceous species appear to assemble randomly along the gradients of nutrient availability in several European herbaceous habitats, suggesting that all these strategies perform similarly under non-extreme soil nutrient conditions.
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