Diversity and Structure of Soil Fungal Communities across Experimental Everglades Tree Islands
Fungi play prominent roles in ecosystem services (e.g., nutrient cycling, decomposition) and thus have increasingly garnered attention in restoration ecology. However, it is unclear how most management decisions impact fungal communities, making it difficult to protect fungal diversity and utilize fungi to improve restoration success. To understand the effects of restoration decisions and environmental variation on fungal communities, we sequenced soil fungal microbiomes from 96 sites across
... 96 sites across eight experimental Everglades tree islands approximately 15 years after restoration occurred. We found that early restoration decisions can have enduring consequences for fungal communities. Factors experimentally manipulated in 2003–2007 (e.g., type of island core) had significant legacy effects on fungal community composition. Our results also emphasized the role of water regime in fungal diversity, composition, and function. As the relative water level decreased, so did fungal diversity, with an approximately 25% decline in the driest sites. Further, as the water level decreased, the abundance of the plant pathogen–saprotroph guild increased, suggesting that low water may increase plant-pathogen interactions. Our results indicate that early restoration decisions can have long-term consequences for fungal community composition and function and suggest that a drier future in the Everglades could reduce fungal diversity on imperiled tree islands.