Temporal variation in temperature and rainfall differentially affects ectomycorrhizal colonization at two contrasting sites

Randy L. Swaty, Catherine A. Gehring, Matt Van Ert, Tad C. Theimer, Paul Keim, Thomas G. Whitham

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

89 Scopus citations


We examined the roles that seasonal shifts in precipitation and temperature played in the ectomycorrhizal (ECM) colonization of pinyon pine (Pinus edulis Engelm.) at two contrasting sites in northern Arizona. Pinyons growing in ash and cinder soils experienced much greater water and nutrient stress than pinyons growing nearby in sandy-loam soils. Over a one year period, we obtained monthly measurements of ECM colonization, root zone soil moisture and temperature, and air temperature and precipitation. Four major patterns emerged. Firstly, although climate as measured by ambient temperature and precipitation did not vary between the two sites, soil temperature was significantly higher and soil moisture significantly lower at the cinder site than at the sandy-loam site. Secondly, ECM colonization was significantly higher at the cinder site for 5 of 12 months. Thirdly, although nearly 70% of the variation in ECM colonization of pinyons growing in cinder soil was predicted by a combination of soil moisture and soil temperature, these same variables had little predictive power for pinyons growing in sandy-loam soils. Air temperature and precipitation were also significantly correlated with ECM colonization at the cinder site but not the sandy-loam site. Fourthly, a watering experiment showed that ECM colonization significantly increased with supplemental water at the cinder site, but not at the sandy-loam site. Thus, in two sites that did not differ in plant community or climate, ectomycorrhizas in cinder soils were far more sensitive to changes in moisture and temperature than ectomycorrhizas in sandy-loam soils.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)733-739
Number of pages7
JournalNew Phytologist
Issue number4
StatePublished - Aug 1998


  • Cinder-ash soils
  • Ectomycorrhizal colonization
  • Ectomycorrhizal fungi
  • Environmental stress
  • Temporal variation

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Physiology
  • Plant Science


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