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Thane Gehring

Abstract

Wood-inhabiting fungi are responsible for the degradation of dead wood, playing a role in nutrient cycling and nutrient transport making them indispensable to their ecosystem’s health. Fungi are generally understudied, specifically in the tropics despite its proven hotspot in diversity and the importance of conservation. Wood-inhabiting fungi were investigated in the eastern Andean montane cloud forest of Ecuador to determine the biodiversity, distribution, and relation to an altitudinal gradient. Along multiple ridges of EcoMinga’s Rio Zuñac reserve, 13 20x20 meter (0.1-hectare) quadrants between the altitudes of 1300 to 2000 meters were sampled for wood-inhabiting fungi. A total of 175 samples were taken comprised of 36 families and 152 species demonstrating extremely high diversity and low species coverage. Six different altitudes were compared, and it was found that the communities were neither distinct nor the same provoking the need for more study on the complete effect of altitude and different abiotic factors. Ten logs with fungal fruiting bodies were monitored for ten days to understand the differing lifecycles of a variety of fungi. The majority of the fungi had a lifecycle of longer than ten days while some completed multiple.

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