Luis Quijada, Visiting Postdoctoral Fellow
Pfister Lab, Department of Organismic and Evolutionary Biology
Topic: Diversity and composition of micro-fungi along an elevation gradient in an oceanic island
The distribution and ecology of two groups of micro-fungi, Helotiales and Orbiliales (Ascomycota), were studied in the island of Tenerife (Canary Islands, Spain) in four different vegetation types, i.e. Euphorbia scrub, Pine forest, Laurel forest and summit broom scrubs. Between autumn 2012 and spring 2014, forty-five plots were established across an elevation gradient from sea level to summit at >3000 m. A total of 1892 decaying branches from sixty-two plant species were collected on the ground and 1141 of them harbored fruitbodies of these inoperculate discomycetes. A total of 149 species were recorded, including 86 Helotiales ssp. and 63 Orbiliales ssp. Altitude, vegetation type and substrate were the variables that most affected the distribution of species. The Laurel forest harbored the highest species richness of Helotiales while Orbiliales were more diverse in the Euphorbia scrubs. The species richness of Helotiales was highest at mid-elevation (mid-domain effect) but Orbiliales were more diverse in both coastal and high elevation plots. The species composition of both groups also varied significantly among vegetation types, with shifts in species assemblage from Laurel forest to summit broom scrubs for Helotiales. Orbiliales formed two groups, i.e. Euphorbia scrubs and the other three vegetation types. Various species of both Helotiales and Orbiliales were indicator species for each type of vegetation. The Laurel forest was the vegetation with the most number of species occurring exclusively in this vegetation type. Although a high number of species are believed to be cosmopolitan having the ability to colonize a high range of ecosystems, ours results pointed out that many of these species were restricted to a specific habitat (arid or dry), vegetation type or groups of substrates and may have more specific ecological requirements than previously assumed.
Host Lab: Pfister