Data from: Timing of mutualist arrival has a greater effect on Pinus muricata seedling growth than interspecific competition
Peay, Kabir G. (2018), Data from: Timing of mutualist arrival has a greater effect on Pinus muricata seedling growth than interspecific competition, Dryad, Dataset, https://doi.org/10.5061/dryad.9h4t7
Interactions with symbiotic microbes, such as mycorrhizal fungi, have the potential to greatly influence plant growth, but it is unclear whether field variation in symbiont availability is common and, if so, sufficient to influence interspecific plant competition.
In a greenhouse experiment using natural field soils, I varied the timing of ectomycorrhizal inoculation and the presence of an arbuscular mycorrhizal plant competitor, and measured their effects on pine seedling growth.
I found that ectomycorrhizal colonization was absent in some field soils, and that in soils without mycorrhizal inoculum, delayed arrival of ectomycorrhizal spores progressively reduced pine seedling growth and favoured growth of the competitor. Competition had significant negative effects on pine seedling growth, but the competition effect was much smaller than the effect of delayed mutualist arrival.
Synthesis. The importance of mycorrhizal spore arrival time on pine growth suggests that plants may experience mutualist limitation more frequently than previously expected, and the relative magnitude of seedling responses to mycorrhizal fungi and competing plants show that in some systems mutualism is likely of equal or greater importance compared with interspecific competition in affecting plant community assembly.
National Science Foundation, Award: DBI-1046115