Changes in forest vegetation and arbuscular mycorrhizae along a steep elevation gradient in Arizona

Marta A. Fisher, Peter Z. Fulé

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

43 Scopus citations


We assessed species composition, richness and abundance of understory vegetation, as well as arbuscular mycorrhizal (AM) inoculum potential on the San Francisco Peaks, tallest mountains in Arizona, crossing a steep, south-facing elevational gradient. These mountains have a high conservation value due to their rare habitats but previous vegetation studies have been limited. Because mature trees in the Pinaceae do not form associations with AM fungi, there may be more variation in plant community and AM fungal associations in coniferous forest than in ecosystems where all species associate with AM fungi. Differences in species composition between forest types reflected differences in the historical disturbance regimes. Species richness was highest in ponderosa pine forest (32.6 ± 1.4 per 1000 m 2 plot), although plant abundance was highest in aspen forest (49.4 ± 3.8%). Ponderosa pine and bristlecone pine forest were both high in species richness and contained species which were tolerant of frequent, low-intensity fire. Exotic species richness and abundance were highest in the lower elevations, which were also areas of high species richness and greater anthropogenic disturbance. Arbuscular mycorrhizal inoculum potential varied widely (1.2-80.1%), decreasing with increases in tree cover. We suggest indicator species that may be of use in monitoring these forests under changing climate and fire regimes.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)293-311
Number of pages19
JournalForest Ecology and Management
Issue number1-3
StatePublished - Oct 25 2004


  • Arbuscular mycorrhizae
  • Biodiversity
  • Conservation
  • Disturbance
  • Soil ecology
  • Wilderness

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Forestry
  • Nature and Landscape Conservation
  • Management, Monitoring, Policy and Law


Dive into the research topics of 'Changes in forest vegetation and arbuscular mycorrhizae along a steep elevation gradient in Arizona'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this