The roles of soil fungi and plant-mycorrhiza associations in stabilizing the Colombian treeline

Lina Marcela Aragón Baquero
Lina Marcela Aragón Baquero
Cundinamarca, Colombia
project abstract

We aim to understand the role that soil fungi and plant-mycorrhiza associations play in the stabilization of treeline in the Colombian Eastern Andes Cordillera. The ability of trees from high Andean forests to “migrate” and track suitable temperatures in a warming world may be limited by the absence of the right soil microorganisms and highly specific plant-mycorrhiza associations at higher elevations. To understand the role that each of these two factors plays in determining and stabilizing treeline, we will visit 10 sites around Bogotá city and, in each of them, collect soil and root samples along 3 transects spanning an altitudinal gradient from the High Andean Forest (~3,000 masl) into the Páramo (~3,400 masl) ecoregion. The high Andean Forest and the Páramo ecoregions are biodiversity hotspots severely threatened by climate change and pressures of multiple human activities such as agriculture, cattle farming, and urban development. These tropical montane ecosystems are also highly important as above- and below-ground carbon stocks and may serve as future “carbon refuges” if adequately preserved (Duque et al. 2021). Thanks to SPUN support, we will unveil if the absence of the right microorganisms in the soil will put the few remnants of the High Andean Forest in Colombia more at risk.