Mycorrhizal type and litter stoichiometry determine soil biogeochemistry in a temperate forest
Taylor, Melanie Kay
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Mycorrhizal symbioses affect soil biogeochemistry across terrestrial ecosystems. The dominance of arbuscular mycorrhizal (AM) plant species is associated with lower soil carbon (C) to nitrogen (N) ratios relative to ectomycorrhizal (ECM) plant species, but it is unclear how these patterns have emerged. Explanations include mycorrhizal differences in nutrient acquisition strategies, plant litter stoichiometry, or a combination. We tested these ideas in a mixed-mycorrhiza temperate forest by pairing a field study on tree-specific soil characteristics with a soil respiration mesocosm experiment where we manipulated soils and litters. Our results demonstrate that both mycorrhizal type and litter stoichiometry determine patterns in soil biogeochemistry with litter stoichiometry and mycorrhizal type affecting soil C:N and the heterotrophic respiration response. Our study demonstrates that the mycorrhizal type and litter stoichiometry of tree species create distinct biogeochemical signatures on soils in this forest and creates a predictive context for considering the consequences of tree species migration.