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Higher productivity in forests with mixed mycorrhizal strategies


Luo, Shan; Phillips, Richard P; Jo, Insu; Fei, Songlin; Liang, Jingjing; Schmid, Bernhard; Eisenhauer, Nico (2023). Higher productivity in forests with mixed mycorrhizal strategies. Nature Communications, 14:1377.

Abstract

Decades of theory and empirical studies have demonstrated links between biodiversity and ecosystem functioning, yet the putative processes that underlie these patterns remain elusive. This is especially true for forest ecosystems, where the functional traits of plant species are challenging to quantify. We analyzed 74,563 forest inventory plots that span 35 ecoregions in the contiguous USA and found that in ~77% of the ecoregions mixed mycorrhizal plots were more productive than plots where either arbuscular or ectomycorrhizal fungal-associated tree species were dominant. Moreover, the positive effects of mixing mycorrhizal strategies on forest productivity were more pronounced at low than high tree species richness. We conclude that at low richness different mycorrhizal strategies may allow tree species to partition nutrient uptake and thus can increase community productivity, whereas at high richness other dimensions of functional diversity can enhance resource partitioning and community productivity. Our findings highlight the importance of mixed mycorrhizal strategies, in addition to that of taxonomic diversity in general, for maintaining ecosystem functioning in forests.

Abstract

Decades of theory and empirical studies have demonstrated links between biodiversity and ecosystem functioning, yet the putative processes that underlie these patterns remain elusive. This is especially true for forest ecosystems, where the functional traits of plant species are challenging to quantify. We analyzed 74,563 forest inventory plots that span 35 ecoregions in the contiguous USA and found that in ~77% of the ecoregions mixed mycorrhizal plots were more productive than plots where either arbuscular or ectomycorrhizal fungal-associated tree species were dominant. Moreover, the positive effects of mixing mycorrhizal strategies on forest productivity were more pronounced at low than high tree species richness. We conclude that at low richness different mycorrhizal strategies may allow tree species to partition nutrient uptake and thus can increase community productivity, whereas at high richness other dimensions of functional diversity can enhance resource partitioning and community productivity. Our findings highlight the importance of mixed mycorrhizal strategies, in addition to that of taxonomic diversity in general, for maintaining ecosystem functioning in forests.

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Additional indexing

Item Type:Journal Article, refereed, original work
Communities & Collections:07 Faculty of Science > Institute of Geography
Dewey Decimal Classification:910 Geography & travel
Language:English
Date:13 March 2023
Deposited On:15 Mar 2023 14:52
Last Modified:21 Mar 2023 08:52
Publisher:Nature Publishing Group
ISSN:2041-1723
OA Status:Gold
Free access at:Publisher DOI. An embargo period may apply.
Publisher DOI:https://doi.org/10.1038/s41467-023-36888-0
  • Content: Published Version
  • Language: English
  • Licence: Creative Commons: Attribution 4.0 International (CC BY 4.0)