How does light and phosphorus fertilisation affect the growth and ectomycorrhizal community of two contrasting dipterocarp species?
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- Brearley, F.Q., Scholes, J.D., Press, M.C. et al. Plant Ecol (2007) 192: 237. doi:10.1007/s11258-007-9325-6
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Phosphorus concentrations in many south-east Asian tropical rain forest soils are very low. To determine the growth responses of seedlings of a light-demanding (Shorea leprosula) and a more shade-tolerant (Hopea nervosa) dipterocarp species to increasing P, we carried out a nursery fertilisation experiment. Responses of symbiotic ectomycorrhizal (EcM) fungi to the treatments were also determined. Seedlings were grown under high light (13 mol m−2 d−1) or moderate light (4 mol m−2 d−1) in shade-chambers and were fertilised with a solution containing 0, 1, 10 or 100 mg L−1 P. The growth of Hopea and Shorea showed different responses to the light and P fertilisation treatments with Hopea having greater growth under moderate light conditions and Shorea having greater growth under high light conditions. Shorea responded to P fertilisation by increasing its foliar P concentrations and growth rates, whereas Hopea did not take up additional P and did not improve its growth rates. There was no effect of either light or P fertilisation on total EcM colonisation or EcM diversity, but around half of the EcM morphotypes observed were affected by one of these two abiotic perturbations, most notably for Riessiella sp. which increased with P fertilisation suggesting it may not be a mutualistic fungus. These results show how niche partitioning in both dipterocarp seedlings and EcM fungi can be divided along contrasting axes.