Wind and small mammals are complementary fungal dispersers


Following a disturbance, dispersal shapes community composition as well as ecosystem structure and function. For fungi, dispersal is often wind or mammal facilitated, but it is unclear whether these pathways are complementary or redundant in the taxa they disperse and the ecosystem functions they provide. Here, we compare the diversity and morphology of fungi dispersed by wind and three rodent species in recently harvested forests using a combination of microscopy and Illumina sequencing. We demonstrate that fungal communities dispersed by wind and small mammals differ in richness and composition. Most wind-dispersed fungi are wood saprotrophs, litter saprotrophs, and plant pathogens, whereas fungi dispersed in mammal scat are primarily mycorrhizal, soil saprotrophs, and unspecified saprotrophs. We note substantial dispersal of truffles and agaricoid mushrooms by small mammals, and dispersal of agaricoid mushrooms, crusts, and polypores by wind. In addition, we find mammal-dispersed spores are larger than wind-dispersed spores. Our findings suggest that wind- and small-mammal-facilitated dispersal are complementary processes and highlight the role of small mammals in dispersing mycorrhizal fungi, particularly following disturbances such as timber harvest.


Soil Biogeochemistry and Microbial Ecology; Natural Resources and the Environment

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