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Harvard Forest REU Symposium Abstract 2021

  • Title: Soil fungal diversity in response to multiple global change stressors
  • Author: Emily L Embury (Wheaton College (MA))
  • Abstract:

    Soil warming, nitrogen enrichment, and non-native plant invasions can alter soil fungal communities, and such communities play an important role in soil nutrient decomposition and carbon cycling. Understanding how fungal communities shift due to these global change drivers can inform how the composition of soil organic matter and the soil’s carbon storage capabilities may shift with climate change and anthropogenic-driven ecosystem alterations. A collaborative research project was conducted to utilize previously collected soil fungal sequence datasets to gain a deeper understanding of how fungal communities change with long-term soil warming, simulated nitrogen deposition, and non-native plant species invasions. My goal within this larger project was to analyze how the alpha and beta diversity of soil fungi have changed in response to the three global change treatments. To answer this question, the alpha and beta diversity of four datasets were analyzed, and ANOVA tests were utilized to look for significant variation of diversity across the global change drivers. It was found that there is significant variation of beta diversity, but no significant variation of alpha diversity between control plots and all three global change drivers. These results suggest that species richness (alpha diversity) is not strongly impacted by warming, nitrogen enrichment, or non-native species invasion, but community composition (beta diversity) is affected by all three global change drivers. This suggests that fungal communities will likely experience changes in community composition from future climate change and other anthropogenic disturbances.

  • Research Category: Soil Carbon and Nitrogen Dynamics; Invasive Plants, Pests & Pathogens; Group Projects; Biodiversity Studies