Patterns of distance-decay in Finnish fungal communities

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Title: Patterns of distance-decay in Finnish fungal communities
Author: Crosier, Brittni Joette
Other contributor: Helsingin yliopisto, Bio- ja ympäristötieteellinen tiedekunta
University of Helsinki, Faculty of Biological and Environmental Sciences
Helsingfors universitet, Bio- och miljövetenskapliga fakulteten
Publisher: Helsingin yliopisto
Date: 2020
Language: eng
Thesis level: master's thesis
Degree program: Ekologian ja evoluutiobiologian maisteriohjelma
Master's Programme in Ecology and Evolutionary Biology
Magisterprogrammet i ekologi och evolutionsbiologi
Specialisation: ei opintosuuntaa
no specialization
ingen studieinriktning
Abstract: Biogeography is a crucial aspect to ecological studies, as an ecosystem is comprised of the physical habitat, the organisms living there, and the interactions of these components. Community structure, and therefore functioning, are inherently of a spatial nature. Spatial structure of populations is often crucial basic knowledge for understanding the evolutionary history, dispersal patterns, and resilience of any given species. One aspect of spatial structure, and the topic covered in this study, is community distance decay, or the rate at which community similarity decreases with physical distance. More of the landscape is constantly being altered by humans on a large scale, so it is increasingly important to understand the effects that these anthroprogenic changes to the environment has on local populations. Studying community distance decay helps form understanding of dispersal and establishment limitations for different organisms, which is necessary for mitigating biodiversity loss. Many studies show that habitat fragmentation and loss has greatly impacted the structure of plant and animal communities, but there has been much less focus on fungal communities. There’s no certainty that fungi is impacted in the same ways, given the different lifestyles and dispersal methods, so the aim of this study is to contribute to the much needed research on fungal community structure at various scales. This aim is addressed by examining fungal community distance decay from small scale of a couple kilometers or less to a fairly large scale encompassing a landscape of primarily urban, forest, and agricultural areas. The five main localities of sampling were in middle and southern Finland: Helsinki, Lahti, Tampere, Jyväskylä, and Joensuu. Sampling locations and plot design were chosen to allow the comparison of communities separated by a mosaic, as well as along a short rural to urban gradient, to assess the effects of habitat type. From each location, six plots were decided, two in urban core, one in urban edge, two in natural core, and one in natural edge. The role of dispersal ability and functional traits in distance decay is also studied by comparing results from two different methods of fungi sampling, which were collecting spores from the air using cyclone samplers, and taking soil cores to gather fungal biomass. All samples were DNA analysed with high-throughput sequencing and the results from the DNA barcoding were used to create OTU clusters, by which the 30 plots could be compared through relative abundances of OTU’s. I determined the similarity of fungal communities using an analysis of similarity (ANOSIM) test in R, where all possible variables (site, habitat type, sample type) were used as a grouping in individual tests, thereby indicating which variable is associated with highest community difference. I also determined the differences in functional groups and major taxonomic levels among locations and sampling method using interactive taxanomic (KRONA) charts. Results showed that there are differences in fungal community structure among habitat type and sampling type. However there was greater difference at the level of plots than site locations, so clear patterns of strong community distance decay with physical distance was not measured in this study. The results suggest that fungal communities can be fairly impacted by human caused habitat change, and individual characteristics, such as dispersal methods or lifestyle, effect the rate of community distance-decay. This provides a valuable early insight into fungal community patterns, which need deeper study to understand the complexities and mechanisms behind them.
Subject: community similarity

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