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Annual and seasonal dynamics of ectomycorrhizal fungi colonizing white pine (Pinus strobus) seedlings following catastrophic windthrow in northern Georgia, USA

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The effect of wind disturbance on ectomycorrhizal fungal (EMF) communities in forests remains largely uninvestigated. We monitored EMF colonizing Pinus strobus L. seedlings in an oak–pine forest in northern Georgia, USA, after catastrophic wind disturbance. Over three years, we sampled naturally regenerating P. strobus seedlings across three growing seasons in the windthrow area and an adjacent undisturbed forest, identifying 53 unique EMF taxa using molecular techniques. The diversity of EMF colonizing seedlings in the undisturbed forest was consistently greater than in the windthrow area. Although the EMF compositional similarity between EMF in the gap and in the undisturbed forest was low throughout the study, many EMF taxa colonized seedlings in both the gap and the undisturbed forest. Seasonal differences in EMF composition and diversity were pronounced in the undisturbed forest, with diversity increasing from spring to fall. In contrast, EMF composition and diversity were relatively constant throughout seasons in the windthrow gap. We hypothesize that the extent of host community mortality and the extent of EMF host community regeneration following disturbance drive both EMF species composition and community dynamics. However, this hypothesis warrants further study.

Document Type: Research Article


Affiliations: 1: Odum School of Ecology, University of Georgia, Athens, GA 30602, USA. 2: Department of Plant Biology, University of Georgia, Athens, GA 30602, USA.

Publication date: 2013-03-08

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