Fungal Community Changes Associated with California Grassland Conversion

Edith Lai
Edith Lai
Central Valley, California
project abstract

In California, the Central Valley region once sprawled with lush grasslands of perennial bunchgrasses and endemic forbs unique to a Mediterranean climate region. However, colonization and subsequent urbanization have significantly altered this precious ecoregion. Sites across the landscape have experienced compounded threats from overgrazing, drought, fire regime change, and particularly intense invasion by European species. Current conservation actions include protecting remaining habitats, improving management, and, if possible, converting land to restored grasslands. This project aids these efforts through the investigation of how the soil microbial community has changed along an invasion gradient. For instance, associations with fungal symbionts could confer competitive advantages or cause diseases in the recipient community that contribute to invasion success. We will learn more about how fungi are participating in landscape change either as a consequence or conduit of grassland invasion.

Photo by Marek Okon on Unsplash