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Mycorrhizal features and leaf traits covary at the community level during primary succession

Jespersen, J. Rasmus P., Johansen, Jesper Liengaard, Rabelo Pereira, Camilla Maciel, Bruun, Hans Henrik, Rosendahl, Søren, Kjøller, Rasmus, López-García, Álvaro
Fungal ecology 2019 v.40 pp. 4-11
coasts, functional diversity, leaf area, leaves, mycorrhizal fungi, plant communities, plants (botany), primary succession
The mycorrhizal association between fungi and plants is thought to be an important component of the functional diversity of plant communities, although evidence is weak. We explored community-level changes to mycorrhizal features and leaf traits along a primary successional gradient on a sedimentation coast. We found that community weighted mean values of mycorrhizal features and leaf traits varied systematically along the successional series, representing a transition from communities dominated by more stress-tolerant plant species (less mycorrhizal colonization and lower specific leaf area) to less stress-tolerant plant species (higher mycorrhizal colonization and specific leaf area). Despite the co-variation in leaf traits and mycorrhizal features at the community level, only mycorrhizal features showed an increasing functional diversity with successional age. These results suggest that mycorrhizal fungi should not be forgotten in trait-based plant community ecology.