Laura McKinley Nevins
“Tree-mycorrhizal associations in temperate forests and predicted shifts to community dynamics in a changing world” – Wind River Forest Dynamics Plot in Washington, USA
Laura McKinley Nevins, a PhD student at Washington State University, is diving into the important roll mycorrhizal communities play in forest carbon storage and how they impact ecosystem functioning. In the mutualistic relationship between trees and mycorrhizal fungi, mycorrhizae receive carbon derived from photosynthesis and perform critical functions in exchange, such as water/nutrient transport and uptake. These functions directly impact drought survival traits in trees and are becoming more important due to increased droughts which threaten old growth forests. Laura will perform an assessment in the Wind River Forest Dynamics Plot (Washington, USA) of mycorrhizal communities, analyses of tree and fungal traits, estimation of belowground carbon storage, and model forest dynamics and carbon storage under future conditions. The proposed approach will offer realistic predictions of shifts in tree-mycorrhizal associations, and likely carbon storage variation under future conditions. Further, models of tree community dynamics will shed light on expected species replacement. This information is critical to predict the future capacity of temperate forests to mitigate and respond to climate change.