Mycobiome diversity of coastal dune ecosystems in barrier islands in South Texas bays

Candice Lumibao
Candice Lumibao
Barrier Islands, South Texas bays, Gulf of Mexico region
project abstract

The coastal dune ecosystems of the barrier islands along South Texas bays in the northern Gulf of Mexico provide important ecosystem services such as wildlife habitat and serve as the first line of defense against hurricanes and sea level rise. They represent a unique system as the South Texas estuaries and bays surrounding the barrier islands lie along a gradient of salinity (from 8 ppt to 40 ppt) but are considered at-risk ecosystems as they are also subject to different degrees of natural and anthropogenic degradations including oil pollution. It is an ideal system to study the mycobiome diversity of the ecoregion as it can serve as a space-for-time substitution of environmental change impacts on belowground fungal communities. Our project aims to assess the diversity of mycorrhizal communities (and soil mycobiome) in coastal dune ecosystems of barrier islands and how the environment and any concomitant changes shape these communities. Insights gained from the study can help inform conservation of underground communities and coastal management, and potentially aid in nature-based solutions for conservation and rehabilitation of barrier island habitats.  

Photo by Mika R on Unsplash