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Keywords:

  • heath forest;
  • kerangas;
  • caatinga;
  • campina;
  • tropical mycorrhizas;
  • Dipterocarpaceae;
  • Myrtaceae;
  • tropical forest ecology

Summary

  •  Tropical heath forests have accumulations of slowly decomposing organic matter at the soil surface. To test the hypothesis that ectomycorrhizas are more abundant than arbuscular mycorrhizas under such conditions, we compared the abundance of ectomycorrhizal (EcM) tree species, and the relative proportions of EcM and arbuscular mycorrhizal (AM) roots, in heath forest and lowland rain forest.
  •  The mycorrhizal status of trees in two heath forest and two lowland (mixed dipterocarp) forest plots in Brunei Darussalam was determined by literature and field survey. Fine-root density, proportion of EcM roots, and fractional colonization of EcM and AM roots were measured in monoliths from organic and mineral soil.
  •  There was no difference in the relative basal area abundance (10–41%) of EcM trees, the proportion of EcM roots in monoliths (8–46%), or fractional colonization (90%) of EcM roots, between the two forest types. However, fractional colonization of AM roots was higher (54%) in heath forest than in mixed dipterocarp forest (27%).
  •  Our data do not support the hypotheses that ectomycorrhizas are more abundant in, or determine the floristic composition of, tropical heath forests.