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Type: Journal Article
Author(s): Rebecca E. Hewitt; Teresa N. Hollingsworth; F. Stuart Chapin III; D. Lee Taylor
Publication Date: 2016

Background: Vegetation change in high latitude tundra ecosystems is expected to accelerate due to increased wildfire activity. High-severity fires increase the availability of mineral soil seedbeds, which facilitates recruitment, yet fire also alters soil microbial composition, which could significantly impact seedling establishment. Results: We investigated the effects of fire severity on soil biota and associated effects on plant performance for two plant species predicted to expand into Arctic tundra. We inoculated seedlings in a growth chamber experiment with soils collected from the largest tundra fire recorded in the Arctic and used molecular tools to characterize root-associated fungal communities. Seedling biomass was significantly related to the composition of fungal inoculum. Biomass decreased as fire severity increased and the proportion of pathogenic fungi increased. Conclusions: Our results suggest that effects of fire severity on soil biota reduces seedling performance and thus we hypothesize that in certain ecological contexts fire-severity effects on plant–fungal interactions may dampen the expected increases in tree and shrub establishment after tundra fire.

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Citation: Hewitt, Rebecca E.; Hollingsworth, Teresa N.; Chapin III, F. Stuart; Taylor, D. Lee. 2016. Fire-severity effects on plant-fungal interactions after a novel tundra wildfire disturbance: implications for arctic shrub and tree migration. BMC Ecology 16:25.

Cataloging Information

  • Alnus viridis
  • Arctic
  • arctic tundra
  • black spruce
  • climate change
  • disturbance
  • fire intensity
  • fire management
  • fire severity
  • forest management
  • fungal communities
  • fungi
  • green alder
  • internal transcribed spacers
  • mineral soil
  • Picea mariana
  • seedlings
  • shrub expansion
  • shrubs
  • soil organisms
  • treeline
  • tundra
  • wildfires
Tall Timbers Record Number: 32529Location Status: Not in fileCall Number: AvailableAbstract Status: Okay, Fair use, Reproduced by permission
Record Last Modified:
Record Maintained By: FRAMES Staff (
FRAMES Record Number: 23992

This bibliographic record was either created or modified by Tall Timbers and is provided without charge to promote research and education in Fire Ecology. The E.V. Komarek Fire Ecology Database is the intellectual property of Tall Timbers.