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Title: Fire-severity effects on plant-fungal interactions after a novel tundra wildfire disturbance: implications for arctic shrub and tree migration

Author: Hewitt, Rebecca E.; Hollingsworth, Teresa N.; Stuart Chapin III, F.; Lee Taylor, D.;

Date: 2016

Source: BMC Ecology

Publication Series: Scientific Journal (JRNL)

Description: Background: Vegetation change in high latitude tundra ecosystems is expected to accelerate due to increased wildfire activity. High-severity fires increase the availability of mineral soil seedbeds, which facilitates recruitment, yet fire also alters soil microbial composition, which could significantly impact seedling establishment.
Results: We investigated the effects of fire severity on soil biota and associated effects on plant performance for two plant species predicted to expand into Arctic tundra. We inoculated seedlings in a growth chamber experiment with soils collected from the largest tundra fire recorded in the Arctic and used molecular tools to characterize root-associated fungal communities. Seedling biomass was significantly related to the composition of fungal inoculum. Biomass decreased as fire severity increased and the proportion of pathogenic fungi increased.
Conclusions: Our results suggest that effects of fire severity on soil biota reduces seedling performance and thus we hypothesize that in certain ecological contexts fire-severity effects on plant–fungal interactions may dampen the expected increases in tree and shrub establishment after tundra fire.

Keywords: Alnus viridis, Arctic tundra, ARISA, Climate change, Fire severity, Fungal internal transcribed spacer (ITS), Picea mariana, Shrub expansion, Treeline

Publication Notes:

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  • This article was written and prepared by U.S. Government employees on official time, and is therefore in the public domain.

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Hewitt, Rebecca E.; Hollingsworth, Teresa N.; Stuart Chapin III, F.; Lee Taylor, D. 2016. Fire-severity effects on plant-fungal interactions after a novel tundra wildfire disturbance: implications for arctic shrub and tree migration. BMC Ecology. 16(1): 546-.

 


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