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Title: A first comprehensive census of fungi in soil reveals both hyperdiversity and fine-scale niche partitioning

Author: Taylor, D. Lee; Hollingsworth, Teresa N.; McFarland, Jack W.; Lennon, Niall J.; Nusbaum, Chad; Ruess, Roger W.;

Date: 2014

Source: Ecological Monographs

Publication Series: Scientific Journal (JRNL)

Description: Fungi play key roles in ecosystems as mutualists, pathogens, and decomposers. Current estimates of global species richness are highly uncertain, and the importance of stochastic vs. deterministic forces in the assembly of fungal communities is unknown. Molecular studies have so far failed to reach saturated, comprehensive estimates of fungal diversity. To obtain a more accurate estimate of global fungal diversity, we used a direct molecular approach to census diversity in a boreal ecosystem with precisely known plant diversity, and we carefully evaluated adequacy of sampling and accuracy of species delineation. We achieved the first exhaustive enumeration of fungi in soil, recording 1002 taxa in this system. We show that the fungus : plant ratio in Picea mariana forest soils from interior Alaska is at least 17:1 and is regionally stable. A global extrapolation of this ratio would suggest 6 million species of fungi, as opposed to leading estimates ranging from 616 000 to 1.5 million. We also find that closely related fungi often occupy divergent niches. This pattern is seen in fungi spanning all major functional guilds and four phyla, suggesting a major role of deterministic niche partitioning in community assembly. Extinctions and range shifts are reorganizing biodiversity on Earth, yet our results suggest that 98% of fungi remain undescribed and that many of these species occupy unique niches.

Keywords: biodiversity, black spruce forest, community assembly, fungi, fungus-to-plant ratio, global species richness, interior Alaska, USA, Picea mariana, rarefaction, ribosomal internal transcribed spacer, soil horizon, vegetation structure.

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  • This article was written and prepared by U.S. Government employees on official time, and is therefore in the public domain.

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Taylor, D. Lee; Hollingsworth, Teresa N.; McFarland, Jack W.; Lennon, Niall J.; Nusbaum, Chad; Ruess, Roger W. 2014. A first comprehensive census of fungi in soil reveals both hyperdiversity and fine-scale niche partitioning. Ecological Monographs. 84(1): 3-20.

 


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