Are fungal networks key to dryland primary production?

American Journal of Botany
By: , and 

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Abstract

In low-resource ecosystems, competition among primary producers can be reduced through the partitioning of limiting resources in space or time. Partitioning, coupled with species interactions, can be a source of ecosystem stability by retaining resources within a biotic “loop” and slowing losses due to physical processes, such as erosion, gaseous loss, or leaching. Such coupling occurs in marine food webs (the microbial loop), where positive interactions among microbes limit losses of nutrients that would otherwise drop to the ocean floor (Fenchel, 2008). Likewise, mycorrhizal fungi in tropical rainforests may rapidly recycle litter nutrients back to canopy trees, preventing leaching driven by high rainfall (Hattenschwiler et al., 2011). Such dynamics differ from the paradigm for most mesic, terrestrial ecosystems, in which the primary source of nutrients for primary production is the decomposition of soil organic matter (SOM, Schimel and Bennett, 2004). Thus, in ecosystems that lack large reserves of soil organic matter to supply nutrients to producers (e.g., drylands, where sparse litter yields low SOM), biotic retention of nutrients may be particularly critical to primary production and ecosystem dynamics.

Additional publication details

Publication type Article
Publication Subtype Journal Article
Title Are fungal networks key to dryland primary production?
Series title American Journal of Botany
DOI 10.1002/ajb2.1184
Edition Online First
Year Published 2018
Language English
Publisher Wiley
Contributing office(s) Southwest Biological Science Center