- • Soil abiotic factors are considered to be important in determining the distribution of ectomycorrhizal (ECM) fungal species; however, there are few field data to support this. Here, we relate ECM species distributions to changes in soil chemistry along a short (90-m), natural nutrient gradient.
- • The ECM community was characterized, using morphological and molecular techniques, in soil samples collected at 10-m intervals.
- • There were pronounced changes in ECM fungal community structure along the transect, with many taxa showing discrete distributions. Although there was a change of host from Pinus to Picea along the gradient, host-specific fungi did not account for the observed change in community structure. Ordination analyses showed that community structure was strongly correlated with soil characteristics, in particular extractable ammonium and base saturation. However, autocorrelation among soil parameters makes it difficult to isolate the effects of individual parameters.
- • The distinctive changes in soil and vegetation along the transect used in this study provided an exceptional opportunity to examine the local-scale impact of natural spatial heterogeneity on an ECM fungal community.