Pioneer dwarf willow may facilitate tree succession by providing late colonizers with compatible ectomycorrhizal fungi in a primary successional volcanic desert


Author for correspondence: Kazuhide Nara Tel: +81 424 655601 Fax: +81 424 655601 Email:


  • • To advance understanding of the contribution of ectomycorrhizal (ECM) fungi to tree successional processes, natural establishment patterns of secondary colonizing hosts and their ECM fungal communities were investigated with special reference to pioneer hosts.
  • • In the volcanic desert on Mount Fuji, Japan, vegetation is sparsely distributed, resembling islands in a sea of scoria. Of 509 vegetation islands in the research area, 161 contained Salix reinii (Salix), the first colonizing ECM host species. The spatial coincidence between secondary colonizing timber species and Salix was analysed, and ECM fungal communities were studied using molecular identification methods.
  • • I found 39 and 26 individuals of Betula ermanii and Larix kaempferi, respectively. Without exception, these individuals were all accompanied by Salix. The ECM fungal communities of these timber species showed high similarity to that of Salix and were dominated by generalists that were compatible with two or more plant families.
  • • In this desert, available ECM propagules are limited. Pioneer Salix may contribute to tree succession by providing adjacent late colonizers with compatible ECM fungal symbionts.