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Melissa McCormick Katalin Szlavecz Brenda Nieto Lijun Xia Dennis Whigham Effects of non-native earthworms on mycorrhizal fungi and tree seedling growth.

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Presentation on theme: "Melissa McCormick Katalin Szlavecz Brenda Nieto Lijun Xia Dennis Whigham Effects of non-native earthworms on mycorrhizal fungi and tree seedling growth."— Presentation transcript:

1 Melissa McCormick Katalin Szlavecz Brenda Nieto Lijun Xia Dennis Whigham Effects of non-native earthworms on mycorrhizal fungi and tree seedling growth

2 "On a global basis...the two great destroyers of biodiversity are, first habitat destruction and, second, invasion by exotic species” - E.O. Wilson Image from The Nature Conservancy’s Wildland Invasive Species Task Force ethanzuckerman.com appomattoxnews.com

3 Invasive Species An invasive species is “an alien species whose introduction does, or is likely to cause, economic or environmental harm or harm human health” In the U.S. there are nearly 6,600 non-native species Invasive species have influenced all U.S. ecosystems The current annual environmental, economic, and health-related costs of invasive species exceed those of all other natural disasters combined (estimated at $122 Billion in 2000). Ehrenfeld 1997, Cox 1999, Rossman 2001, USGS 2010, Pimentel et al

4 Below-ground biological invasions have gone largely unnoticed until recently: Apart from a few familiar cases of Argentine fire ants (Solenopsis invicta) in Oceania and North America, the Formosan termite (Coptotermes formosanus) in South Africa and the southeastern United States, and the New Zealand flatworm (Arthurdendyus triangulatus) in the British Isles. Invaders under our feet Photos courtesy Chi-han Chang

5 Hendrix et al Pandora’s box contained bait Exotic earthworms around the world

6 Exotic Earthworms in North America After last Ice Age many unutilized opportunities James, 1995Reynolds,1995 NativeIntroduced

7 Introduced earthworms now occur in every biogeographic region in all but the driest or coldest habitat types on Earth. Earthworm invaders Hendrix et al. 2008

8 Earthworms BAD? GOOD?

9 Earthworm species differ Bouche 1977 Eisenoides loennbergi - Native Lumbricus friendi - European Lumbricus rubellus - European Octolasion lacteum - European Amynthas hilgendorfi- Asian

10 Mycorrhizas INTRODUCTION Definition A mycorrhiza is a symbiotic association between a fungus and a plant root. Mycorrhizal Function A bi-directional exchange of nutrients PLANTFUNGUS Carbon Soil Nutrients Source: Smith & Read 1997

11 ctivities/adaption_plants.htm Mycorrhizae have been identified in fossils of plants as early as 400mya and are considered crucial to plants adapting to life on land (Taylor et al. 1995, Taylor & Krings 2005, Krings et al. 2007). Nearly all forest plants are mycorrhizal...except for some invasive species. ECM AM Conifers, Oaks, Hickories, Beeches, Birches, Chestnut Tulip poplar, Sweetgum, Maples, Ashes, Elms, Sycamore

12 How do we look at fungi in the soil?  Extract DNA from soil  There are LOTS of fungi in the soil!  Up to 150 species in 0.5g of soil.  2 samples 15cm apart may share only 25% of their species.  We use specific PCR primers to look only at the DNA from the fungi we are interested in. Fungal DNA Soil core

13 Quantifying fungi in the soil:

14 A field experiment 48 plots (1mx1m) were trenched to 50 cm depth, lined with mesh screen and backfilled. Smithsonian Environmental Research Center (SERC), Edgewater, MD

15 Earthworms were removed from half of the plots by repeated electroshocking. Manipulating earthworms

16 Leaf litter was added (beech on one side and tulip poplar on the other) and seedlings planted in the plots. Tree seedlings and leaf litter

17 Soil Processes: Decomposition ↑ Respiration ↑ Abundance of microbial taxa (qPCR): Mycorrhizal fungi ECM (Tomentella, Russula) ↓ AM ↓ Tree seedling performance Growth (biomass) ? Plant mycorrhizal colonization ↓ Measured variables / expectations

18 * * Decomposition: Decomposition was greater in forests with earthworms if mesh size allowed earthworms to access leaf litter. Szlavecz et al. In press

19 Respiration was higher in plots with earthworms, especially on the side with tulip poplar leaf litter. Mature Forest Successional Forest Respiration:

20 Proportional Abundance (ng DNA/g dry soil/total quantified DNA) Site TomentellaAM fungiRussula No Earthworms Earthworms Site p<0.001 Site x EW p=0.08 Old forest Young forest Old forest Young forest Old forest Young forest Mycorrhizal fungi were less abundant in plots with earthworms Site p<0.001 EW p=0.05 Site p<0.001 EW p=0.08 Site x EW p=0.06

21 Oak ↓ Beech ↓ Log above-ground biomass (mean g + se) Forest Age oldyoung no EW EW oldyoung P=0.07 P=0.09 Maple ↑ oldyoung P=0.07 Oaks and beeches grew less in plots with earthworms. Maples grew more. Tree seedling growth Few Tulip poplar seedlings survived in old forests and none in old forest plots without earthworms. Alex Binck Tulip ↑ oldyoung 0

22 Key Conclusions Earthworm activities affected mycorrhizal fungi and tree seedlings: Mycorrhizal fungi were less abundant in plots with earthworms. Earthworms affected growth of red oak and beech but not maple or tulip poplar. Earthworm effects on tree seedlings differed with species: Changes to nutrients affected early successional trees (+). Changes to mycorrhizal fungi affected late successional trees (-).

23 What does this mean for our forests? Forest composition may change: Early successional trees may be better able to use nutrients made available by earthworms and may dominate longer. Invasive plants may increase. Forest floor habitat for ground-nesting birds may decrease. Keep non-native earthworms out of forests where they haven’t already invaded: Increase awareness of bait release, moving plants, compost (especially vermicomposting), and mulch.

24 Acknowledgements USDA-CSREES NSF (EAR ) Smithsonian Women’s Committee Funding: Field Help: Jay O’Neill Alex Binck Matt Sievers Scott Pitz Helen Huang Natalie Bray Chi-Han Chang Mike Bernard


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