Site preparation alters soil distribution of roots and ectomycorrhizae on outplanted western white pine and Douglas-fir

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This report documents root and ectomycorrhizal development on container-produced (1-0), outplanted, western white pine and Douglas-fir seedlings growing in site-prepared forest soils typical of the Inland Northwestern US. The following site preparations were used: 1) mounding organic and surface mineral horizons; 2) mounding with subsequent physical removal or chemical control of competing vegetation; 3) scalping to reduce competing vegetation; and, 4) a control or no post-harvest disturbance. Treatments were applied on relatively harsh and moderate sites in northern Idaho. Most ectomycorrhizae on the seedling population were found in the mineral substrates that dominated planting sites. However, compared to mineral substrates, highest seedling ectomycorrhizal tip counts were recorded in organic matter, particularly decayed wood or mixtures containing decayed wood. Strong ectomycorrhizal development was characteristic of western white pine. It supported highest ectomycorrhizal activity in organic substrates on the harshest treatments (scalps). Douglas-fir showed even stronger relative increases of ectomycorrhizae in organic substrates on harsh treatments. Three of the four common ectomycorrhizal morphological types were concentrated in mineral substrates with all treatments. A treatment-induced change of behavior was shown by the principal pine type. It occurred at highest numbers in organic substrates of the mound with competing vegetation treatment and in mineral substrates with the control. If relative availability to seedling roots was considered, organics (especially decomposed wood) were generally equal or superior to mineral substrates for supporting ectomycorrhizal activity on planted seedlings.

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Plant and Soil