Tree diversity and the role of non-host neighbour tree species in reducing fungal pathogen infestation

TitleTree diversity and the role of non-host neighbour tree species in reducing fungal pathogen infestation
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication2014
AuthorsHantsch L., Bien S., Radatz S., Braun U., Auge H., Bruelheide H.
JournalJournal of Ecology
Volume102
Issue6
Start Page1673
KeywordsBiodiversity and ecosystem functioning, Determinants of plant community diversity and structure, disease dilution effect, FunDivEUROPE, fungal pathogen richness and infestation, Kreinitz experiment, local neighbourhood, neighbouring species identity effects, Quercus petraea, Shannon diversity effects, Tilia cordata
Abstract

* The degree to which plant pathogen infestation occurs in a host plant is expected to be strongly influenced by the level of species diversity among neighbouring host and non-host plant species. Since pathogen infestation can negatively affect host plant performance, it can mediate the effects of local biodiversity on ecosystem functioning.

* We tested the effects of tree diversity and the proportion of neighbouring host and non-host species with respect to the foliar fungal pathogens of Tilia cordata and Quercus petraea in the Kreinitz tree diversity experiment in Germany. We hypothesized that fungal pathogen richness increases while infestation decreases with increasing local tree diversity. In addition, we tested whether fungal pathogen richness and infestation are dependent on the proportion of host plant species present or on the proportion of particular non-host neighbouring tree species.

* Leaves of the two target species were sampled across three consecutive years with visible foliar fungal pathogens on the leaf surface being identified macro- and microscopically. Effects of diversity among neighbouring trees were analysed: (i) for total fungal species richness and fungal infestation on host trees and (ii) for infestation by individual fungal species.

* We detected four and five fungal species on T. cordata and Q. petraea, respectively. High local tree diversity reduced (i) total fungal species richness and infestation of T. cordata and fungal infestation of Q. petraea and (ii) infestation by three host-specialized fungal pathogen species. These effects were brought about by local tree diversity and were independent of host species proportion. In general, host species proportion had almost no effect on fungal species richness and infestation. Strong effects associated with the proportion of particular non-host neighbouring tree species on fungal species richness and infestation were, however, recorded.

* Synthesis. For the first time, we experimentally demonstrated that for two common forestry tree species, foliar fungal pathogen richness and infestation depend on local biodiversity. Thus, local tree diversity can have positive impacts on ecosystem functioning in managed forests by decreasing the level of fungal pathogen infestation.

URLhttp://dx.doi.org/10.1111/1365-2745.12317
DOI10.1111/1365-2745.12317

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