Light and seed size affect establishment of grove-forming ectomycorrhizal rain forest tree species

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Summary

  •  Regeneration of the dominant ectomycorrhizal tree Microberlinia bisulcata in groves in Korup, Central Africa, is very poor. The hypothesis was tested that this species is more shade intolerant than other co-occurring species.
  •  In two 1-yr trials, each with M. bisulcata and four other species at a nursery close to Korup, growth was measured under five PAR levels, with ± added P and ± watering in the dry season. In parallel experiments the effects of PAR with two R : FR ratios were investigated.
  •  Increasing PAR had a consistent effect on the rates of increase in plant mass and on changes in the other variables. Doubling soil P, watering and halving the R : FR ratio had almost no effect. However, across species, mass at low PAR and relative growth rate related positively and negatively, respectively, to seed mass.
  •  One contributing factor for the poor recruitment of M. bisulcata is therefore its low survival and slow growth at low PAR, due to its small seed size. The two codominant ectomycorrhizal grove species of Tetraberlinia, with larger seeds, were less affected by low PAR.

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