Soil Ecology Restoration Group

last update December 05, 2000

Dispersal agents of vesicular-arbuscular mycorrhizal fungi in a disturbed arid ecosystem



An evaluation of wind, small mammals and grasshoppers as dispersial agents of vesicular-arbuscular mycorrhizal (VAM) fungi (Endogonaceae) was conducted in a shrub steppe community disturbed by strip-mining in southwestern Wyoming. Wind-dispersed VAM spores were collected on the study site with spore traps arranged in transects and in snow drifts across the site. Small mammals and grasshoppers were captured using traps and nets, respectively, and examined for the presence of VAM spores. To determine the source of the spores blown onto the study site, deposition patterns of spore mimics released from two potential source areas were assessed. Wind accounted for the movement of large numbers of spores onto the site from distances up to 2 km. Small mammals also appeared to move spores but at a lower magnitude. The importance of these vectors to the establishment of the VAM symbiosis remains to be elucidated.