COS 176-8 - Meta-analysis of fungal succession: The pattern of community composition change in soil decomposition

Friday, August 11, 2017: 10:30 AM
B112, Oregon Convention Center
Sasha Vivelo, Biology, Boston University, Boston, MA and Jennifer M. Talbot, Department of Biology, Boston University, Boston, MA

Ecologists have frequently observed a pattern of fungal succession during litter decomposition, wherein different fungal taxa dominate different stages of decay at individual study sites. Since the early 1960s, it has been assumed that fungal succession is driven by evolutionary history of species, whereby different fungal phyla dominate different stages of decay. However, this assumption has not been tested quantitatively, and therefore it is not clear if a common, evolutionarily determined pattern of community succession holds across ecosystems. We performed a meta-analysis of decomposer fungal succession across 25 studies and ecosystem types and calculated the distribution of taxa by decay stage.


Consistent patterns of succession across ecosystems became apparent at the phylum level. Fungal phyla (including Ascomycota and Basidiomycota) varied in their abundance on decomposing litter based on decay stage as measured by percent litter mass loss (p<0.001). Phylum Basidiomycota varied in its abundance based on local climate conditions at the study site (p<0.001). These results suggest that the succession patterns identified in this study may be rooted in fungal decomposers’ evolutionary history.