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    Author(s): Rebecca E. Hewitt; Teresa N. Hollingsworth; F. Stuart Chapin III; D. Lee Taylor
    Date: 2016
    Source: BMC Ecology
    Publication Series: Scientific Journal (JRNL)
    Station: Pacific Northwest Research Station
    PDF: Download Publication  (1.0 MB)


    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.

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

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