Factors Influencing Soil Fungal Community Composition and Function in Deciduous Forests

Stephen Kutos, Fordham University


Microorganisms around the globe play a considerable role in the health and function of individual organisms, including humans, and entire ecosystems. The stability and well-being of these systems depends on the species within microbial communities, how they interact with each other, and how they are impacted by the environment. Yet, we are still learning about how and why these communities are distributed across landscapes or what influences their distributions. Therefore, a key goal for microbial ecologists is to increase understanding of the distribution of these vital communities. Prior research indicates that microbial communities can display distinct spatial patterns of diversity and richness that are influenced by both abiotic and biotic factors. These different community patterns may confer altered functionality, as certain taxa could have specific functional roles within the local community. In this dissertation, I combined fieldwork, greenhouse bioassays, DNA sequencing, functional assays, and ecological theory to investigate these themes. Specifically, my aim was to tease out patterns of soil fungal community composition and function within northeastern US forests and woodlands at various scales. These soil fungal taxa are key to forest ecosystems as they contribute to organic matter decomposition, carbon sequestration, and nutrient cycling of carbon, nitrogen, and phosphorus. Overall, disentangling the patterns of microbial biogeography can help us understand the link between these taxa and the environment, which is needed to better predict how ecosystems will be affected by future climate change and other anthropogenic perturbation.

Subject Area

Ecology|Microbiology|Bioinformatics|Forestry|Soil sciences

Recommended Citation

Kutos, Stephen, "Factors Influencing Soil Fungal Community Composition and Function in Deciduous Forests" (2021). ETD Collection for Fordham University. AAI28495616.