Short-term effects of fuel reduction treatments on soil mycorrhizal inoculum potential in beetle-killed standsThis article is part of a larger document. View the larger document here.
Heavy fuel loads were created by southern pine beetle (Dendroctonus frontalis Ehrh.) outbreak throughout the southeastern Piedmont during the early 2000s. Prescribed burning and mechanical mulching (mastication) were used to reduce fuel loading, but many ecological impacts are unknown. Successful forest regeneration depends on ectomycorrhizal (ECM) or vesicular-arbuscular mycorrhizal (VAM) fungi which form important symbiotic relationships with most forest plants. Fuel reduction treatments may impact mycorrhizal propagule abundance and/or vigor through propagule consumption, changes in soil chemistry, and/or effects on host vegetation. The objective of this study was to compare soil VAM and ECM inoculum potential after prescribed burning and mulching treatments to no treatment (control) using greenhouse bioassays. Neither VAM nor ECM inoculum potential were significantly different among treatments, but were highly variable within treated stands.