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Oecologia. 2004 Dec;141(4):687-700. Epub 2004 Aug 19.

Diversity of arbuscular mycorrhizal fungi across a fragmented forest in Panama: insular spore communities differ from mainland communities.

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Department of Biology, Indiana University, Bloomington, IN 47405, USA.


It is now understood that alterations in the species composition of soil organisms can lead to changes in aboveground communities. In this study, we assessed the importance of spatial scale and forest size on changes in arbuscular mycorrhizal fungal (AMF) spore communities by sampling AMF spores in soils of forested mainland and island sites in the vicinity of Gatun Lake, Republic of Panama. We encountered a total of 27 AMF species or morphospecies, with 17, 8, 1 and 1 from the genera Glomus, Acaulospora, Sclerosystis, and Scutellospora, respectively. At small scales (<100 m2), we found little evidence for spatial structuring of AMF communities (decay of Morisita-Horn community similarity with distance). However, at large spatial scales, we found that the AMF spore community of a mainland plot was more similar to other mainland plots several kilometers (>5) away than to nearby island plots (within 0.7 km). Likewise, most island plots were more similar to other island plots regardless of geographic separation. There was no decay in AMF species richness (number of species), or Shannon diversity (number of species and their spore numbers) either with decreasing forest-fragment size, or with decreasing plant species richness. Of the six most common species that composed almost 70% of the total spore volume, spores of Glomus "tsh" and G. clavisporum were more common in soils of mainland plots, while spores of Glomus "small brown" and Acaulospora mellea were more abundant in soils of island plots. None of these common AMF species showed significant associations with soil chemistry or plant diversity. We suggest that the convergence of common species found in AMF spore communities in soils of similar forest sizes was a result of forest fragmentation. Habitat-dependent convergence of AMF spore communities may result in differential survival of tree seedlings regenerating on islands versus mainland.

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