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Fungal Ecology and Ecosystem-based Management of Special Forest Products

  • Author(s): Crandall, Sharifa Gulamhussein
  • Advisor(s): Gilbert, Gregory S.
  • et al.
Abstract

Fungi shape the dynamics of natural ecosystems as pathogens, nutritional mutualists, and decomposers. They are also important as Special Forest Products with cultural and economic significance. I took an interdisciplinary approach to understand how fungal reproduction varies in response to abiotic (weather) and biotic (vegetation) factors, and how forest managers in the Pacific Northwest manage collaborative activities associated with Special Forest Products. I used three complementary approaches to examine temporal and spatial variation in reproduction in fungal communities. First, I measured the phenology of airborne fungal spores in coast redwood forests, mixed-evergreen forests, and maritime chaparral in coastal California, USA. Temporal patterns in meteorological factors (relative humidity, temperature) were more important in determining airborne fungal spore abundance than was vegetation type. This suggests that overall patterns of fungal reproductive dynamics may be predictable across heterogeneous landscapes based on local weather. Second, I used novel metagenomic techniques to identify unculturable and culturable airborne fungi across a vegetation mosaic. I found that the assemblages of fungal species vary strongly over time, with little spatial structure associated with habitat types. Third, for airborne spores collected from different vegetation types, I measured physical traits that may be important for survival, dispersal, or response to environmental change. I found larger and elongated spores in dry and structurally open vegetation (chaparral) compared to smaller and rounder spores in wet and structurally closed vegetation (forests). These results suggest that fungi in chaparral possess spore traits that allow them to persist and disperse in harsh, dry, open conditions. Finally, I examined the position of Special Forest Products like mushrooms and berries, in large-scale, collaborative planning for ecosystem-based management and the role of stakeholder participation to improve natural resource management. Working in the Pacific Northwest, I conducted a regional survey and interviews with national forest managers and found that collaborative activities occur at small scales (< 20 acres) and are driven by bi-lateral stakeholder interactions and legal obligations to stakeholders such as federally recognized Native American Tribes. These findings modify existing hypotheses on collaboration of natural resources and can aid national forests in future collaborative resource management.

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