Nitrogen-fixing symbiotic bacteria act as a global filter for plant establishment on islands

2022 | journal article. A publication with affiliation to the University of Göttingen.

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​Nitrogen-fixing symbiotic bacteria act as a global filter for plant establishment on islands​
Delavaux, C. S.; Weigelt, P.; Magnoli, S. M.; Kreft, H.; Crowther, T. W. & Bever, J. D.​ (2022) 
Communications Biology5(1).​ DOI: 

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Delavaux, Camille S.; Weigelt, Patrick; Magnoli, Susan M.; Kreft, Holger; Crowther, Thomas W.; Bever, James D.
Abstract Island biogeography has classically focused on abiotic drivers of species distributions. However, recent work has highlighted the importance of mutualistic biotic interactions in structuring island floras. The limited occurrence of specialist pollinators and mycorrhizal fungi have been found to restrict plant colonization on oceanic islands. Another important mutualistic association occurs between nearly 15,000 plant species and nitrogen-fixing (N-fixing) bacteria. Here, we look for evidence that N-fixing bacteria limit establishment of plants that associate with them. Globally, we find that plants associating with N-fixing bacteria are disproportionately underrepresented on islands, with a 22% decline. Further, the probability of N-fixing plants occurring on islands decreases with island isolation and, where present, the proportion of N-fixing plant species decreases with distance for large, but not small islands. These findings suggest that N-fixing bacteria serve as a filter to plant establishment on islands, altering global plant biogeography, with implications for ecosystem development and introduction risks.
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Communications Biology 
Fakultät für Forstwissenschaften und Waldökologie ; Burckhardt-Institut ; Abteilung Biodiversität, Makroökologie und Biogeographie 
Schweizerischer Nationalfonds zur Förderung der Wissenschaftlichen Forschung
United States Department of Agriculture | Agricultural Research Service
Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft



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