, Volume 189, Issue 1, pp 9–19 | Cite as

Additive or synergistic? Early ectomycorrhizal fungal community response to mixed tree plantings in boreal forest reclamation

  • Natalie ScottEmail author
  • Gregory J. Pec
  • Justine Karst
  • Simon M. Landhäusser
Highlighted Student Research


Ectomycorrhizal fungi are an important component to ecosystem function in the boreal forest. Underlying factors influencing fungal community composition and richness, such as host identity and soil type have been studied, but interactions between these factors have been less explored. Furthermore, mixed-species stands may have additive or synergistic effects on ectomycorrhizal fungi species richness, but this effect is challenging to test on natural sites due to difficulty in finding monospecific and mixed-species stands with similar site conditions and history. Forest reclamation areas can provide an opportunity to explore some of these fundamental questions, as site conditions and history are often known and managed, with the added benefit that knowledge emerging from these studies can be used to evaluate the recovery of degraded forest landscapes. Here, we compared the richness and composition of ectomycorrhizal fungi in young single- and mixed-species stands established on a reclamation area designed to inform strategies to restore upland boreal forests disturbed by oil sands mining. Seedlings of three host tree species (Populus tremuloides, Pinus banksiana, Picea glauca) were planted in single- and mixed-species stands on three different salvaged soils (forest floor material, peat, subsoil). After four growing seasons, there was no difference in total ectomycorrhizal fungi species richness and composition in mixed- versus combined single-species stands indicating that an additive effect of host tree species prevailed early in development. However, there were compositional shifts in fungal communities across both the host tree species and the salvaged soil type, with soil type being the strongest driver.


Richness Community composition Recovery Soil 



We thank many current and past members of the Landhäusser Research Group and the Molecular Biological Service Unit at the University of Alberta for their support. Syncrude Canada Limited, Total Exploration and Production Canada Limited, Canadian Natural Resources Limited, and Imperial Oil Resources Limited provided funding for this research.

Author contribution statement

NS, JK and SML designed the experiment. NS conducted field and laboratory work. GJP helped with statistical analysis. NS wrote and prepared the manuscript. All authors contributed equally to editing of the manuscript.

Compliance with ethical standards

Conflict of interest

The authors declare no conflict of interest.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag GmbH Germany, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Renewable ResourcesUniversity of AlbertaEdmontonCanada

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