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Patterns of Nitrogen and Carbon Stable Isotope Ratios in Macrofungi, Plants and Soils in Two Old-Growth Conifer Forests

Steven A. Trudell, Paul T. Rygiewicz and Robert L. Edmonds
The New Phytologist
Vol. 164, No. 2 (Nov., 2004), pp. 317-335
Published by: Wiley on behalf of the New Phytologist Trust
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/1514774
Page Count: 19
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Patterns of Nitrogen and Carbon Stable Isotope Ratios in Macrofungi, Plants and Soils in Two Old-Growth Conifer Forests
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Abstract

• To further assess the usefulness of stable isotope ratios for understanding elemental cycling and fungal ecology, we measured δ 15 N and δ 13 C in ectomycorrhizal and saprotrophic macrofungi, plants, woody debris and soils from two old-growth conifer forests in Olympic National Park, Washington, USA. • Ecosystem isotope patterns were similar at the two forests, but differences existed that appear to reflect soil nitrogen availability and C allocation within the ectomycorrhizal symbioses. δ 15 N and δ 13 C of ectomycorrhizal and saprotrophic fungi differed in both forests, and a dual δ 15 N/δ 13 C plot provided the best means of distinguishing them. Within both groups, δ 15 N and δ 13 C differed among genera and species, and the difference in species composition was an important determinant of the different overall δ 15 N of the ectomycorrhizal fungi at the two forests. • Variation in multiple ecophysiological traits such as organic N use, mycelial morphology and transfer of N to phytobionts appears to underlie the variation in the isotope signatures of ectomycorrhizal fungi. • The varied isotope signatures of ectomycorrhizal fungi suggest considerable functional diversity among them. Life-history strategies could provide a framework for interpreting these patterns.

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