Effects of desiccation and eutrophication on ectomycorrhizal (ECM) root development in wet Alder carr forests in The Netherlands were studied. In northwestern Europe, wet Alder carr forests are found mostly in peatlands and along streams, forming an important component of wetland ecosystems. The dominant tree species in wet Alder carr forests is Alnus glutinosa (L.) Gaertn. (Black alder), which associates with ectomycorrhizal fungi. During recent decades, wet Alder carr forests in Europe have declined because of desiccation and eutrophication, particularly in The Netherlands. In the present study, the number of root tips of A. glutinosa trees was highest in an undisturbed wet Alder carr forest in a peatland area. Eutrophication in the peatland area significantly inhibited ectomycorrhizal (ECM) root development of A. glutinosa. In the eutrophied forest, ECM root tips were observed only close to A. glutinosa trees growing on hummocks. The concentrations of nitrate and potassium in soil water of the eutrophied forest were significantly higher than in the undisturbed forest, while magnesium and iron concentrations and the pH were significantly lower. The number of ECM root tips of A. glutinosa in a desiccated forest along a stream was generally lower than in an undisturbed wet Alder carr forest on waterlogged soil in the same area. The sulphate concentration in soil water in the desiccated forest was significantly higher than in the forest on waterlogged soil. ECM root development of A. glutinosa may have been negatively affected by the chemical composition of the soil water
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