Mycorrhizal type and co-limitation of forest productivity. Noah Blumenthal
Mycorrhizal Type and Co-
Limitation of Forest Productivity
Noah Blumenthal et al.
• Two types of
• Plants form one of
the two (e.g.
Maples, Ash = AM;
Beech, Birch = EM)
• Linked to different
rates of nutrient
cycling and uptake
(Phillips et al 2013)
• Productivity should be co-limited by N and P (e.g.
Elser et al 2007, Harpole et al 2011)
• Between 2011 and 2015, there was a growth
response to P but not a greater response to NP in
MELNHE (Goswami et al 2018)
• Do nutrient limitations associated with different
mycorrhizal types contribute to co-limitation?
• Hypothesis: Co-limitation in northern
hardwoods arises from differential N and P
limitation by mycorrhizal types
• Annual stem growth was
measured between 2015 and
• Each species designated as
AM or EM
• Ran linear mixed-effects
model in R’s nlme package,
treating N, P, and mycorrhizal
type as fixed effects
• Analyzed stand ages
separately, when found to be
significant (F = 11.10, P =
0.005) in an overall model
Abies balsamea - Balsam Fir EM
Acer pensylvanicum - Striped Maple AM
Acer rubrum - Red Maple AM
Acer saccharum - Sugar Maple AM
Betula alleghaniensis - Yellow Birch EM
Betula papyrifera - White Birch EM
Fagus grandifolia - American Beech EM
Fraxinus americana - White Ash AM
Picea rubens - Red Spruce EM
Populus grandidentata - Bigtooth
Populus tremuloides - Quaking Aspen EM
Prunus pensylvanica - Pin Cherry AM
Prunus serotina - Black Cherry AM
Quercus rubra - Northern Red Oak EM
Sorbus americana - Mountain Ash AM
Tilia americana - Basswood EM
Tsuga canadensis - Eastern Hemlock EM
Response of productivity in
mature stands to N and P
additions based on mycorrhizal
type. Significant results are in
N 1,28 2.83 0.104
P 1,28 3.60 0.068
1,28 3.53 0.071
N x P 1,28 6.71 0.015
N x M Type 1,28 2.58 0.120
P x M Type 1,28 1.36 0.254
N x P x M
1,28 4.50 0.043
• The NxP interaction suggests co-limitation of
mature forest productivity
• This interaction is more strongly observed in
AM trees than EM trees
• Greater relative abundance of AM promotes
• Elser, J. J., M. E. S. Bracken, E. E. Cleland, D. S. Gruner, W. S. Harpole, H.
Hillebrand, J. T. Mgai, E. W. Seabloom, J. B. Shurin, and J. E. Smith. 2007.
Global analysis of nitrogen and phosphorus limitation of primary
producers in freshwater, marine and terrestrial ecosystems. Ecology
• Goswami, S., M. C. Fisk, M. A. Vadeboncoeur, M. Garrison-Johnston, R. D.
Yanai, and T. J. Fahey. 2018. Phosphorus limitation of aboveground
production in northern hardwood forests. Ecology 99:438–449.
• Harpole, W. S., J. T. Ngai, E. E. Cleland, E. W. Seabloom, E. T. Borer, M. E. S.
Bracken, J. J. Elser, D. S. Gruner, H. Hillebrand, J. B. Shurin, and J. E. Smith.
2011. Nutrient co-limitation of primary producer communities. Ecology
• Phillips, R. P., E. Brzostek, and M. G. Midgley. 2013. The mycorrhizal-
associated nutrient economy: A new framework for predicting carbon-
nutrient couplings in temperate forests. New Phytologist 199:41–51.
The MELNHE Project is funded by USDA NIFA (2019-67019-29464) and NSF
(DEB-1637685) . For more information, please visit www.esf.edu/melnhe