Symbiosis with ectomycorrhizal (ECM) fungi can be important for regeneration success. In a context of increasing regeneration failures in the coastal forest of maritime pine in Southwest France, we tried to identity whether differences in ECM communities could partly explain the variation of regeneration success and how they are influenced by forest practices and stand characteristics. In particular, we focused on the effects of harvesting methods (comparing mature forest with seed-tree regeneration and clear-cuts) and topography (bottom-, mid-, and top positions). Five field trials (two in regeneration failure areas and three in successful areas) were used to sample 450 one-year-old seedlings. Assessments of ECM of seedling nutrient concentrations and of seedling growth based on exploration types were made. ECM root colonisation was similar in all harvesting treatments, suggesting that enough inoculum remained alive after logging. Harvesting-induced effects modifying soil properties and light availability respectively impacted ECM composition and seedling growth. Topography-induced variations in water and nutrient availability led to changes in ECM composition, but had little impact on seedling growth. Contact, short-distance, and long-distance exploration types improved the nutritional status of seedlings (Ca, K, and N), showing that mycorrhization could play an important role in seedling vitality. However, neither ECM root colonisation nor exploration types could be related to regeneration failures.
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