Journal Article


Ashwin ViswanathanJaboury GhazoulGanesh HonwadN. Arun KumarRobert Bagchi
Download (447.47 KB)

The effects of rainforest fragment area on the strength of plant –pathogen interactions

Pathogenic interactions between fungi and plants facilitate plant species coexistence and tropical rainforest diversity. Such interactions, however, may be affected by forest fragmentation as fungi are susceptible to anthropo- genic disturbance. To examine how fragmentation affects fungus-induced seed and seedling mortality, we sowed seeds of six plant species in soils collected from 21 forest fragments. We compared seedling establishment in unmanipulated soils to soils treated with fungicides. Fungicides increased germination of Toona ciliata seeds and decreased mortality of Syzygium rubicundum and Olea dioica seedlings. The fungus-induced mortality of one of these species, S. rubicundum, decreased with decreasing fragment size, indicating that its interactions with pathogenic fungi may weaken as fragments become smaller. We provide evidence that a potential diversity- maintaining plant–fungus interaction weakens in small forest fragments and suggest that such disruptions may have important long-term conse- quences for plant diversity. However, we emphasize the need for further research across rainforest plant communities to better understand the future of diversity in fragmented rainforest landscapes.