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Forest Biomass, Carbon Stocks, and Macrofungal Dynamics: A Case Study in Costa Rica

DOI: 10.1155/2014/607372

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Abstract:

There are few published studies providing information about macrofungal biology in a context of forest dynamics in tropical areas. For this study, a characterization of above-ground standing tree biomass and carbon stocks was performed for four different forest subtypes within two life zones in Costa Rica. Fungal productivity and reproductive success were estimated and analyzed in the context of the forest systems studied and results showed fungal dynamics to be a complex and challenging topic. In the present study, fungal productivity was higher in forest patches with more tree density but independent from life zones, whereas fungal biomass was higher in premontane areas with ectomycorrhizal dominant trees. Even though some observed patterns could be explained in terms of climatic differences and biotic relationships, the high fungal productivity observed in dry forests was an interesting finding and represents a topic for further studies. 1. Introduction Macroscopic fungi within the group of the Basidiomycota stand out among human groups for their aesthetic beauty and role in sociocultural paradigms [1]. Ironically, the fungi are one of the biological groups for which limited scientific data in relation to ecosystem dynamics are available (e.g., [2]), and thus popular beliefs are dramatically based on speculation. In fact, the fungi comprise one of the groups for which fine information on natural history, ecological strategies, and across-level trophic relationships still accumulates at a slow pace (see [3]). An obvious constraint of the situation is that the study of modern evolutionary questions of forest functioning, particularly in tropical areas with high levels of nutrient recycling, develops at an even slower speed. The paradox of the research on the tree-fungus system in the tropics derives from the fact that even though it is an important component of forest dynamics, there are a comparatively small number of local scientists generating data about the different shapes of the relationship. In the past, some interactions such as saprophytism, parasitism, endophytism, lichenization, and mycorrhization have been used to generate functional data on tropical fungi (e.g., [4]). However, an integration with forest ecology research is weak, and thus the information generated has been useful for tropical fungal biologists but not necessarily for forest ecologists. For instance, in the case of mycorrhizal research, most of the efforts on tropical areas have focused on the applied aspects of the fungus-plant relationship (e.g., agriculture; see [5]).

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