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Soil nutrient availability and understorey composition beneath plantations of ecto- and arbuscular mycorrhizal Chilean native trees

Lusk, C. H., R. Godoy, P. J. Donoso & I. A. Dickie . 2024.


Background and aims Several lines of evidence indicate that arbuscular mycorrhizal (AM) and ectomycorrhizal (ECM) associations can have different effects on soil nutrient dynamics. Some lineages of ECM fungi can extract N from organic matter, with varying impacts on decomposers, soil carbon pools, mineral N availability, and plants that lack ECM. However, these effects are not always observed, and it is not clear how they are mediated by environmental factors. Methods We used Plant Root Simulator probes to compare soil availability of a wide range of nutrients beneath replicated 30-yr old plantations of Chilean Nothofagus (ECM) and Cupressaceae (Austrocedrus, Fitzroya: AM) on a lowland temperate site. Probes were buried for two 8-week periods in early spring and late summer. We also compared understorey composition beneath plantations, to test for evidence of different successional trajectories beneath Nothofagus and Cupressaceae. Results Soil organic carbon, total N and total phosphorus did not differ significantly between Nothofagus and Cupressaceae stands. Redundancy analysis revealed significant effects of both plantation type (Nothofagus vs. Cupressaceae) and season on overall mineral nutrient availability. Mineral N availability did not differ significantly between Nothofagus and Cupressaceae plots, but pH and calcium availability were significantly lower beneath Nothofagus. Manganese (Mn) was much more available beneath Nothofagus stands, which might reflect abundant Mn-peroxidase, a key enzyme involved in breakdown of lignin by ECM fungi. Understorey composition varied considerably between individual plantations, but did not differ significantly between Nothofagus and Cupressaceae plantations. Conclusions Despite an overall effect on the stoichiometry of nutrient availability, we found little evidence of modification of the local N cycle by ECM fungi, or of divergent regeneration patterns beneath AM and ECM plantations. This might reflect the relatively N-rich character of this site, and/or mycorrhizal effects being counteracted by leaf trait differences between Chilean Cupressaceae and Nothofagus species.