We examined the effects of soil chemistry on the herbaceous forest wildflower Podophyllum peltatum (Mayapple) in an existing large-scale ecosystem level experiment that raised soil pH by two units (from ∼ 4 to ∼ 6) and increased available phosphorus (P) at least sevenfold. Plant leaf tissue was monitored for four years, and we began detailed plant measurements after we observed changes in leaf P content. Plant nutrient content, reproductive allocation, and the extent of root colonization by arbuscular mycorrhizal fungi were determined. We found no effect of changing soil chemistry on P. peltatum reproductive allocation. Addition of P resulted in significant increases in leaf P content, but also marginally reduced leaf N and C content. Increases in pH had no effect on leaf N or P, but there was a significant interaction between P addition and pH elevation on leaf C content. Root colonization by arbuscular mycorrhizal fungi was significantly affected by soil treatment; our data suggest that pH elevation and P addition may have opposite effects on mycorrhizal colonization in forest herbs, with pH increasing and P addition decreasing root colonization. Our study has important implications for how forest wildflowers may respond to anthropogenic changes in soil nutrient content and chemistry.
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5 January 2023
Increases in soil pH and P availability in a temperate hardwood forest affect mycorrhizal colonization and nutrient content of the herbaceous wildflower Podophyllum peltatum (Mayapple)
David J. Burke,
Charlotte R. Hewins,
Sarah R. Carrino-Kyker