Tree species traits affect which natural enemies drive the Janzen-Connell effect in a temperate forest
A prominent tree species coexistence mechanism suggests host-specific natural enemies inhibit seedling recruitment at high conspecific density (negative conspecific density dependence). Natural-enemy-mediated conspecific density dependence affects numerous tree populations, but its strength varies substantially among species. Understanding how conspecific density dependence varies with species’ traits and influences the dynamics of whole communities remains a challenge. Using a three-year manipulative community-scale experiment in a temperate forest, we show that plant-associated fungi, and to a lesser extent insect herbivores, reduce seedling recruitment and survival at high adult conspecific density. Plant-associated fungi are primarily responsible for reducing seedling recruitment near conspecific adults in ectomycorrhizal and shade-tolerant species. Insects, in contrast, primarily inhibit seedling recruitment of shade-intolerant species near conspecific adults. Our results suggest that natural enemies drive conspecific density dependence in this temperate forest and that which natural enemies are responsible depends on the mycorrhizal association and shade tolerance of tree species.