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Nitrogen availability is a primary determinant of conifer mycorrhizas across complex environmental gradients



Ecology Letters (2010) 13: 1103–1113


Global environmental change has serious implications for functional biodiversity in temperate and boreal forests. Trees depend on mycorrhizal fungi for nutrient uptake, but predicted increases in nitrogen availability may alter fungal communities. To address a knowledge gap regarding the effects of nitrogen availability on mycorrhizal communities at large scales, we examine the relationship between nitrogen and ectomycorrhizas in part of a European biomonitoring network of pine forest plots. Our analyses show that increased nitrogen reduces fungal diversity and causes shifts in mycorrhizal community composition across plots, but we do not find strong evidence that within-plot differences in nitrogen availability affect ectomycorrhizal communities. We also carry out exploratory analyses to determine the relative importance of other environmental variables in structuring mycorrhizal communities, and discuss the potential use of indicator species to predict nitrogen-induced shifts in fungal communities.

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