Ecologists have mused over the mechanisms that structure plant communities for centuries. One such mechanism is negative density dependence, which has been proposed as a an important promoter of tree species diversity across plant communities. However, most negative density-dependence studies to date have focused on the roles played by insects and fungal pathogens. Less attention has been put on the potential for mutualistic fungi to influence patterns of density dependence and hence the structure and diversity of plant communities.
Recent advances have highlighted the potential for beneficial mutualistic fungi to counteract the effects of natural enemies on plants, and to influence plant community structure. Yet, the effects of beneficial fungi on plant communities are highly context dependent. This joint special feature with Journal of Ecology, Functional Ecology, and Journal of Applied Ecology aims to highlight the importance of beneficial fungi for plant community dynamics, but also demonstrate their…
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