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Soil Science Society of America Journal Abstract -

Lycopodium Fairy Rings: Effect on Soil Nutrient Release1


This article in SSSAJ

  1. Vol. 35 No. 6, p. 991-997
    Received: Aug 12, 1970
    Accepted: July 26, 1971

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  1. E. L. Stone and
  2. Lynne Thorp2



Colonies of four clubmosses, Lycopodium tristachyum, L. complanatum, L. clavatum and L. obscurum, sometimes occur as “fairy rings”—densely stocked annuli that grow outward and die within. Readily soluble N, P, K, and Fe in the surface soil increased sharply at the point where roots first developed along the advancing lycopod rhizomes; maxima occurred near or beyond the zone of greatest biomass and usually levels declined inward. Extractable Mn was either higher or lower within the ring, depending on season of sampling; Ca and Mg were unaffected. These changes are attributed to increased mineralization of organic matter and altered solubility of Fe and Mn oxides. The capacity of the lycopod root- or root-fungus system to exploit reserves unavailable to other plants presumably conveys a competitive advantage and accounts for the abundance of Lycopodium on some low-fertility soils.

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