Tallgrass prairie sites subjected to 10 y of annual burning, mowing, nitrogen (N) fertilization or phosphorus (P) fertilization and untreated reference sites were studied to examine effects of these management practices on arbuscular mycorrhizal (AM) symbiosis. Spring burning of native prairie field plots significantly reduced AM fungal species diversity, while increasing spore abundance. This increase in total spore number was due to a general increase in most of the 17 fungal species present. In general, the management treatments had larger effects on the richness component of diversity than on the evenness of AM species abundances. Burning and mowing had no significant effects on AM fungal colonization of roots or extraradical mycorrhizal hyphae (EMH) development. However, nitrogen fertilization significantly increased root colonization and EMH development, and P amendment decreased EMH development. There was no significant effect of fertilizer amendment on AM spore abundance, fungal species diversity or richness, but N and P fertilization decreased fungal species evenness. Effects of management practices on AM fungi may be mediated through changes in soil resources or microclimate or through changes in their host plants. These effects on AM symbiosis and community structure are important because AM fungi strongly influence the growth, demography, competitive relationships, relative abundances and diversity of plants in grassland communities.
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Vol. 142 • No. 1