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Land-Cover Legacy Effects on Arbuscular Mycorrhizal Abundance in Human and Wildlife Dominated Systems in Tropical Savanna
Arbuscular mycorrhizal fungi (AMF) can be important mutualists to plant hosts in acquiring soil nutrients. Past work has not explored whether previous land-cover history influences current AMF abundance in croplands and whether different land-cover histories in grazed but not cultivated areas influence AMF. This study was conducted to assess the effects of land-cover history in and near Serengeti National Park on AMF abundance in areas with three different land uses. The results showed that land-cover history influenced a number of soil physicochemical properties following conversion of grassland to cropland or woodland to cropland during the past 27 years.Different original land cover generally did not significantly influence current AMF abundance in croplands or livestock-grazed soils. However, livestock-grazed current grasslands that were formerly woodlands had lower AMF abundance than sites that had been grasslands since 1984. These results suggest that lower AMF abundance in livestock-grazed and cropland areas as compared to protected wildlife-grazed areas may reflect reduced total carbon inputs and higher disturbance and are not strongly influenced by the legacy of previous land cover. Given that recent studies have detected legacy effects on AMF, such effects may reflect more the impact on the taxonomic composition of AMF rather than their total abundance.
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