Mycorrhizal infection indicates the suitability of different management treatments for nature conservation in calcareous grassland

Autor(en): Bernhardt-Römermann, Markus
Brauckmann, Hans-Jörg 
Broll, Gabriele 
Schreiber, Karl-Friedrich
Poschlod, Peter
Erscheinungsdatum: 2009
Enthalten in: Botanica Helvetica
Band: 119
Ausgabe: 2
Startseite: 87
Seitenende: 94
Abstract The vegetation composition of calcareous grasslands in Central Europe is mainly determined by the applied management treatments and the nutrient status of the ecosystems, but these factors cannot clearly be separated. Recently several authors reported a shift in growth-limiting plant nutrients from nitrogen to phosphate. Therefore, we tested the interaction between management and plant available phosphate in a long-term experiment in Southern Germany with different management treatments applied to calcareous grassland. We measured mycorrhization rates, which are assumed to be high at low phosphate availability, to explore the interaction between management, phosphate availability and vegetation composition. By correlating mycorrhization rates to vegetation and soil data we found that treatments involving nutrient removal show a greater degree of mycorrhization than treatments leading to nutrient enrichment. According to decreasing suitability for grassland conservation, the six different management treatments could be ranked as mowing, followed by mulching (twice a year, once a year and every second year), burning and undisturbed succession. It was shown, that mycorrhizal infection rates (1) can be used to evaluate different management treatments for their suitability to conserve the initial vegetation composition, and (2) may provide information about the processes of adaptation to the current management, namely to differences in plant available phosphate. However, as discussed for the undisturbed succession treatment, it might not be sufficient to look at the degree of mycorrhization only. These are related to phosphate availability, but to detect adaptation processes to management, the degree of mycorrhization should be analysed together with plant’s internal nutrient relocation patterns.
ISSN: 1420-9063
DOI: 10.1007/s00035-009-0060-6
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