Data from: Mycorrhizal feedback is not associated with the outcome of competition in old-field perennial plants
Maherali, Hafiz; Stanescu, Sabina (2016), Data from: Mycorrhizal feedback is not associated with the outcome of competition in old-field perennial plants, Dryad, Dataset, https://doi.org/10.5061/dryad.s2692
The symbiosis between plants and arbuscular mycorrhizal (AM) fungi is hypothesized to be an important contributor to plant–soil feedbacks, which can influence the outcome of inter-specific competition. Mycorrhizal feedbacks can be conspecific, which affects individuals of the same species, or heterospecific, which affects individuals of a different species. When heterospecific feedbacks are more positive than conspecific feedbacks, heterospecific individuals are expected to outcompete conspecific individuals. To test this hypothesis, we quantified conspecific mycorrhizal feedback for Plantago lanceolata as a focal species, and heterospecific mycorrhizal feedbacks for 21 competitor old-field species using mycorrhizae cultured with P. lanceolata. We quantified inter-specific competition against the focal species by growing the 21 old-field species with and without P. lanceolata in the presence of mycorrhizae cultured with P. lanceolata. Heterospecific and conspecific feedbacks were both positive, and average heterospecific feedbacks exceeded conspecific feedback by 75%. Competition suppressed P. lanceolata biomass by 14% and average competitor biomass was reduced by 44% in the presence of P. lanceolata, and these effects varied with competitor species identity. Contrary to predictions, the magnitude of heterospecific feedbacks did not predict the ability of competitor species to either suppress or resist suppression by P. lanceolata. Instead, the outcome of competition was significantly and positively correlated with intrinsic growth rate, measured as biomass of competitor species five weeks after germination in non-inoculated conditions. Our findings suggest that species experiencing more positive mycorrhizal feedbacks than a competitor do not necessarily have a competitive advantage. Mycorrhizal mediated soil feedbacks may be less important than intrinsic differences in growth rate in determining competitive outcomes.