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Data for: The interactive effects of soil fertility and tree mycorrhizal association explain spatial variation of diversity-biomass relationships in a subtropical forest

Cite this dataset

Ma, Jianhui et al. (2023). Data for: The interactive effects of soil fertility and tree mycorrhizal association explain spatial variation of diversity-biomass relationships in a subtropical forest [Dataset]. Dryad.


Observed biodiversity-ecosystem function (BEF) relationships are highly variable, particularly in natural forests. However, our understanding of the factors that generate these often contradictory patterns, especially the role of different mycorrhizal associations, is still limited. By relating tree species richness and aboveground biomass (AGB) in a fully-mapped 24-ha subtropical forest dynamics plot, we evaluated the impacts of soil fertility and tree mycorrhizal type in mediating BEF relationships at multiple spatial scales. Our results demonstrate a highly positive total richness effect on AGB for arbuscular mycorrhizal (AM) trees but a negative effect on AGB for ectomycorrhizal (EcM) trees, and their relationships were highly spatial scale dependent. However, the observed BEF relationships turned into positive at small spatial scales (i.e., 10 m and 20 m) after controlling for other confounding factors (i.e., topography, soil fertility, and AM proportion). In addition, we found significant interactions between soil fertility and species richness on AGB. Specifically, the positive effect of total species richness on AGB for major mycorrhizal types gradually weakened with increasing soil fertility, while the positive effect of EcM species richness on AM AGB gradually enhanced at small spatial scales, suggesting the observed diversity effects can be largely attributed to resource niche complementarity and the role of EcM fungi.

Synthesis. We conclude that the variable BEF relationships among forest communities could be explained by spatial variation in abiotic environments and community mycorrhizal composition because different types of symbionts perform different nutrient uptake strategies and ability in protection from antagonists. Our findings provide novel insights into the understanding of the variation in the shape of BEF relationships in natural forests, which is critical for forest management, conservation, and restoration in a changing world.


Our study was conducted in a 24-ha subtropical evergreen broad-leaved forest dynamics plot in the Gutianshan (GTS) National Nature Reserve (29°15′N, 118°07′E), in eastern China. This area is characterized by a subtropical monsoon climate and mean annual temperature is 15.3 and annual precipitation is 1963.7 mm. The major soil group is a subtropical red clay soil, equivalent to Ultisols in the US taxonomy. The GTS plot was established in 2005 as part of the Chinese Forest Biodiversity Monitoring Network (CForBio) and the Center for Tropical Forest Science-Forest Global Earth Observatory (CTFS-ForestGEO). In this plot, all woody stems with diameter at breast height (DBH, 1.3 m above ground) ≥1 cm was tagged, mapped, measured, and identified to species following the CTFS-ForestGEO tree census protocol. We assign a unique mycorrhizal status to each tree species based on the FungalRoot database. In total, the GTS plot contained 133 arbuscular mycorrhizal (AM), 13 ectomycorrhizal (EcM), 3 N-fixing, and 10 ericoid mycorrhizal (ErM) plant species in the initial census.


National Natural Science Foundation of China, Award: 32022053

Strategic Priority Research Program of the Chinese Academy of Sciences, Award: XDB31000000

Ministry of Science and Technology of the People's Republic of China, Award: 2017YFA0605103