Multiplicity of Fungal Form and Function in Arctic-Alpine Ecosystems
Schmidt, S. K. , Wilson, Kenneth , Freeman, Kristen , Longcore, Joyce E. , Simmons, D. Rabern , Mitter , Margaret , Meyer, Alan .
Fungal community structure and function under late-winter snow packs and in extreme high-elevation soils.
Arctic, Antarctic and alpine environments are characterized by extreme spatial and temporal gradients in temperature, nutrients and water availability. We have discovered that basal fungi (zygomycetes and chytrids) have important roles in the functioning of several alpine and sub-alpine ecosystems. Fast-growing zygomycete “snow molds” contribute substantially to the carbon budget of sub-alpine coniferous forests. These fungi colonize litter beneath the late winter snow pack and grow rapidly at sub-zero temperatures. They also exhibit very high Q10 values (as high as 1 x 106) that may explain the high Q10 values observed for under-snow soil respiration at our sites. Chytrids dominate fungal communities of high-alpine soils that are mostly devoid of vascular plants. These “barren” high-elevation systems are extensive in many mountain ranges of the world (including the Himalayas, Rockies and Andes) and yet have not been studied with respect to fungal diversity. Our recent data indicate that chytrids are abundant and highly diverse in such soils; we hypothesize that they colonize the plentiful, eolian deposited pollen and cyanaobacteria and algae that grow in these soils. Our lab is continuing its research to link these novel fungal communities to the overall ecology of mountain ecosystems.
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1 - University of Colorado, Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology, UCB 334, Boulder, Colorado, 80309, USA
2 - University of Maine, School of Biology & Ecology, 5722 Deering Hall, Orono, ME, 04469-5722, USA
3 - University of Maine, School of Biology and Ecology, 5722 Deering Hall, Orono, Maine, 04469-5722, United States of America
Presentation Type: Symposium or Colloquium Presentation
Location: Ballroom 3/Cliff Lodge - Level B
Date: Tuesday, July 28th, 2009
Time: 10:45 AM