Electronic Theses and Dissertations

Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Ph.D. in Biological Science



First Advisor

Jason D. Hoeksema

Second Advisor

Laura Sheppardson

Third Advisor

Brice P. Noonan

Relational Format



Soil microbial communities can have important effects on plant growth and plant community ecology; however, the relationships between trees and soil microbial communities are still relatively poorly understood. Here i examine several of these relationships. Chapter 1 examines how ecological restoration and environmental conditions affect the community composition and enzyme activities of Ectomycorrhizal fungi (emf). Chapter 2 considers whether host specificity in emf structures taxa occurrence on oaks and pines, and chapter 3 investigates how ash addition affects oak seedling growth and the soil bacterial community. I found that while wildfire lowered emf diversity, prescribed burning did not. Ectomycorrhizal root tips from a plot undergoing regular prescribed burns also shohigher enzyme activity than those from unburned and wildfire plots over a year after burning. Additionally, russulaceae and thelephoraceae occurred significantly more often in sites undergoing restoration. Specificity at the host plant family level structures occurrence of emf, with significant numbers of taxa occurring only on oaks or pines. However, emf associating with both oaks and pines were usually dominant taxa. Finally, ash addition increased oak seedling growth and soil bacterial diversity. Soil microbial communities play an important role in structuring plant communities, and better understanding these interactions is important in maintaining and restoring ecosystem health.



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