The trajectory of forests establishing on reclaimed oil sands mines in the Canadian boreal forest is uncertain. Soil microbes, namely mycorrhizal fungi, partly underlie successional trajectories of plant communities, yet their role in restoration is often overlooked. Here, we tested the relative importance of common management tools used in restoration—species planted and soil placement—on the recovery of ectomycorrhizal fungal communities over 4 years. Importantly, we further compared the community assembly of fungi on reclaimed landscapes to that in reference ecosystems disturbed to different degrees. This latter test addresses whether disturbance intensity is more important than common management interventions to restore fungal communities in these ecosystems. Three main findings emerged. (1) The effect of tree species planted and soil placement on ectomycorrhizal fungal communities establishing on reclaimed landscapes was dynamic through time. (2) Disturbances that remove or disrupt the organic layer of soils substantially affect the composition of ectomycorrhizal fungal communities. (3) Shifts in the community composition of ectomycorrhizal fungi were driven to a greater extent by disturbance severity than either tree species planted or soil placement.
- community assembly
- ecological benchmarks
- ectomycorrhizal fungi
- oil sands
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics
- Nature and Landscape Conservation