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Mycorrhizal type of woody plants influences understory species richness in British broadleaved woodlands

Guy, P., Sibly, R. ORCID:, Smart, S. M., Tibbett, M. ORCID: and Pickles, B. J. ORCID: (2022) Mycorrhizal type of woody plants influences understory species richness in British broadleaved woodlands. New Phytologist, 235 (5). pp. 2046-2053. ISSN 1469-8137

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To link to this item DOI: 10.1111/nph.18274


• Mature temperate woodlands are commonly dominated by ectomycorrhizal trees, whereas understory plants predominantly form arbuscular mycorrhizal associations. Due to differences in plant-fungal compatibility between canopy and ground layer vegetation the “mycorrhizal mediation hypothesis” predicts that herbaceous plant establishment may be limited by a lack of suitable mycorrhizal fungal inoculum. • We examined plant species data for 103 woodlands across Great Britain recorded in 1971 and in 2000 to test whether herbaceous plant species richness was related to the proportion of arbuscular mycorrhizal woody plants. We compared the effect of mycorrhizal type with other important drivers of woodland plant species richness. • We found a positive effect of the relative abundance of arbuscular mycorrhizal woody plants on herbaceous plant species richness. The size of the observed effect was smaller than that of pH. Moreover, the effect persisted over time despite many woodlands undergoing marked successional change and increased understorey shading. • This work supports the mycorrhizal mediation hypothesis in British woodlands and suggests that increased abundance of arbuscular mycorrhizal woody plants is associated with greater understory plant species richness.

Item Type:Article
Divisions:Interdisciplinary centres and themes > Soil Research Centre
Life Sciences > School of Biological Sciences > Ecology and Evolutionary Biology
Life Sciences > School of Agriculture, Policy and Development > Department of Sustainable Land Management > Centre for Agri-environmental Research (CAER)
ID Code:105129


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