Traits and tradeoffs among non-native ectomycorrhizal fungal symbionts affect pine seedling establishment in a Hawaiian coinvasion landscape.
Pine invasions lead to losses of native biodiversity and ecosystem function, but pine invasion success is often linked to coinvading non-native ectomycorrhizal (EM) fungi. How the community composition, traits, and distributions of these fungi vary over the landscape and how this affects pine success is understudied. A greenhouse bioassay experiment was performed to test the effects of changes in EM fungal community structure from a pine plantation, to an invasion front to currently pine-free areas on percent root colonization and seedling biomass. Soils were also analysed by qPCR to determine changes in inoculum and spore density over distance for a common coinvading EM fungus, Suillus pungens. Percent colonization increased with distance from the plantation, which corresponded with an increase in seedling biomass and stark changes in EM fungal community membership where Suillus spp. dominated currently pine-free areas. However, there was a negative relationship between S. pungens inoculum potential versus root colonization over distance. We conclude that the success of pine invasions is facilitated by specific traits of Suillus spp., but that the success of Suillus is contingent on a lack of competition with other ectomycorrhizal fungi.