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1. As central place foragers, ants accumulate organic debris near their nests. Consequently, soil nutrient stocks are often enriched near the nest site. We investigated the hypothesis that plant-derived food sources, such as extrafloral nectar (EFN), can encourage soil-dwelling ant colonies to nest near the plant, thereby inadvertently providing the plant with an additional source of mineral nutrients. The study focused on a population of Acacia constricta, a North American shrub bearing EFNs. 2. Several lines of evidence supported the notion that food rewards drew ant nests close to A. constricta plants. Firstly, ant species that visit EFNs nested significantly closer to A. constricta plants than would be expected...
In both field and greenhouse studies, cyanobacterial and cyanolichens of cold-temperature deserts often enhance growth and essential uptake by associated herbs. That effect is associated with better seedling establishment and larger seedlings. The following are possible mechanisms for these effects: (1) the microbiota concentrate essential elements in available forms in soil surface layers, (2) the microbial surface covers are usually darker colored than the soil itself and produce warmer soils during cool seasons when soil water is most available, (3) the gelatinous sheaths of several cyanobacterial genera common on alkaline deserts contain chelating compounds, and (4) conditions that favor persistent microbial...
Soil surfaces dominated by cyanobacteria and cyanolichens (such as Collema sp.) are widespread in deserts of the world. The influence of these biological soil crusts on the uptake of bioessential elements is reported for the first time for six seed plants of the deserts of Utah. This sample almost doubles the number of species for which the influence of biological soil crusts on mineral uptake of associated vascular plants is known. These new case studies, and others previously published, demonstrate that cyanobacterial or cyanobacteria- Collema crusts significantly alter uptake by plants of many bioessential elements. In studies now available, these crusts always increase the N content of associated seed plants....