Araucaria angustifolia (Bert.) O. Ktze. is an endangered Brazilian coniferous tree that has been almost exterminated in the native areas because of uncontrolled wood exploitation. This tree has been shown to be highly dependent on arbuscular mycorrhizal fungi (AMF) and, therefore, AMF may be essential for forest sustainability and biological diversity. Root colonization, density and diversity of AMF spores were assessed in two Araucaria forest stands at the State Park of Alto Ribeira (PETAR), at two sampling dates: May and October. A comparison was made between a mature native stand composed of Araucaria trees mixed into a variety of tropical trees and shrubs, without any sign of anthropogenic interference (FN) and an Araucaria stand planted in 1987 (R), which has been used as a pasture. Assessments included percent root colonization, AMF spore numbers and species richness, Simpson's dominance index (Is), and Shannon's diversity index (H). Mycorrhizal root colonization did not differ between ecosystems in May. In October, however, the native stand (FN) presented a higher colonization than the planted forest (R), and the root colonization was more intense than in May. When considering both sampling periods and forests, 27 species of AM fungi, with higher numbers of spores in FN than in R were found. Canonical discriminant analysis (CDA) indicated Shannon's diversity index as the ecological attribute that contributed the most to distinguish between forest ecosystems, with higher value of H in FN in relation to R. CDA showed to be a useful tool for the study of ecological attributes.
Brazilian Pine; diversity; spore density; root colonization; multivariate analysis