The role of mosses in ecosystem succession and function in Alaska’s boreal forest

  • Turetsky M
  • Mack M
  • Hollingsworth T
 et al. 
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This paper outlines molecular analyses of soil fungi within the Bonanza Creek Long Term Ecological Research program. We examined community structure in three studies in mixed upland, black spruce (Picea mariana (Mill.) BSP), and white spruce (Picea glauca (Moench) Voss) forests and examined taxa involved in cellulose degradation at one upland site. We found that soil horizon was the factor by which fungal communities were most strongly structured and that predictable turnover in upland fungal species occurred through succession. Communities from consecutive summers were not significantly different, indicating that interannual variation was small in relation to differences between forest types and soil horizons, yet the community at a seasonal study site underwent significant changes within a year. In each study, mycorrhizal fungi dominated the community. Fungi rather than bacteria appeared to dominate C-13 cellulose degradation, with strongest growth in taxa that were not dominant members of the untreated community, including members of the genus Sebacina. Overall, our results point to considerable interannual resilience juxtaposed with narrow niche partitioning and the capacity of individual taxa in these hyperdiverse communities to respond strongly to resource inputs and changes in other abiotic environmental parameters such as temperature. Our data double the cumulative total of fungal sequences in GenBank and together achieve a better picture of fungal communities here than for any other ecosystem on earth at this time.

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  • Merritt R. Turetsky

  • Michelle C. Mack

  • Teresa N. Hollingsworth

  • Jennifer W. Harden

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