Conservation of the arbuscular mycorrhizal fungi associated with at risk native Hawaiian dryland forests

Nicole Hynson
Nicole Hynson
Hawaii, USA
project abstract

The focus of this study are the arbuscular mycorrhizal (AM) fungi associated with what is considered by many, the most endangered tropical ecosystem: native Hawaiian dryland forests. These forests have been negatively impacted by land conversion, invasive species and climate change including drought and increased fire frequency. These impacts have reduced the current extent of native dryland forests to 5-10% of their historic range. Hawaii is infamously known as the endangered species capitol of the world and more than 25% of Hawaii's endangered species are found in these forests, but only 3% of the remaining forests are considered healthy. Dryland forests also hold deep cultural significance for Native Hawaiians. Active restoration efforts are underway to preserve and restore these ecosystems, but to date there has been no assessment of the mycorrhizal fungal communities associated with dryland forest native host plants including many endangered and endemic species, the majority of which should partner with AM fungi. The goals of this project include: 1) cataloging the diversity of AM fungi found across the Hawaiian archipelago in the last remaining native dryland forests and, 2) cultivating and preserving AM fungi for native vegetation inoculation trials and restoration projects.