In order to protect underground fungi, we need to know what is there. A recent analysis found that more than 70% of Earth’s known soil biodiversity hotspots remain unprotected by current conservation priorities1. SPUN is helping map patterns of mycorrhizal biodiversity, identifying under-sampled areas, and advocating for better protection of these communities.
We do this by combining large geo-located databases of mycorrhizal diversity with ecological variables to generate spatial predictions of mycorrhizal diversity based on the variable interactions through a machine learning approach. This approach allows us to quantify and map the uncertainty of these model predictions and identify under-sampled ecoregions to help guide future mycorrhizal research across the globe.
- 1Map & predict mycorrhizal biodiversity
- 2Explore & sample
- 3Extract & sequence fungal DNA
Kazakhstan's steppe ecosystems are some of the most ecologically important on Earth, but have been vastly understudied. As desertification sweeps Central Asia it is crucial to gather data about the mycorrhizal communities present in Kazakhstan's grasslands. SPUN partnered with the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds and the Association for Conservation of Biodiversity in Kazakhstan to sample belowground fungal biodiversity along a gradient of desertification in the landlocked country.read more
Known as the most remote island on Earth, Palmyra Atoll is a living laboratory to study reef and rainforest resilience under global change. Together with the Nature Conservancy and US Fish and Wildlife Service, SPUN is asking how mycorrhizal fungi can help restore the atoll’s native rainforests by mediating nutrient cycles between the sea and the land.read more
Together with researchers from National University of Lesotho, SPUN is sampling mycorrhizal communities of high-altitude wetlands that store extraordinary amounts of carbon. Surveys of these wetlands are becoming urgent as these unique southern African ecosystems are facing rapid warming and increased droughts.read more
Green roofs of Utrecht, Netherlands
Sampling green roofs to understand how cities can be better designed to support fungal biodiversity.read more
Apennine Mountains, Italy
Sampling the mycorrhizal fungal communities in the Apennine and Apuane mountains of northern Italy, and the Val d'Ala in the Italian western Alps.read more
SPUN joined researchers and local experts in Patagonia to ground-truth maps of predicted mycorrhizal fungal diversity.read more