Fungi, forests talk tonight in Forks

FORKS — Researcher Korena Mafune will talk about the relationships between fungi and old-growth forests at 7 tonight at the Olympic Natural Resources Center.

Mafune will talk about “Old-Growth Temperate Rainforests in Western Washington: Fungal Communities in Canopy Soils as Adaptive Facilitators to Environmental Change” in the Hemlock Forest Room at ONRC, 1455 S. Forks Ave.

The presentation is open to the public, and refreshments will be served. Attendees are encouraged to bring a potluck favorite dessert.

Mafune will discuss her current research and talk about why she is determined to explore old-growth forests from what we would usually call a bird’s-eye view. Her presentation will build from the ground up as she discusses the lifelong mutualistic relationships between plants and fungi and how they contribute to the unique characteristics of old-growth temperate rainforests.

Throughout the past three decades, organic canopy soils and adventitious roots have been reported in temperate old-growth rainforests. Despite these reports, experiments have not elucidated their role in the functioning and resilience of these rainforests to droughts.

The aim of this research is to determine if the community diversity of mutualistic fungi in canopy soils enhances the resilience of Acer macrophyllum to drier climates vs. communities found in the forest floor, and if these communities respond to pulses of phosphorus in respect to the varying soil characteristics found in canopy vs. forest floor soil ecosystems.

Preliminary research extracted fungal DNA from forest floor and canopy root-tips of old-growth A. macrophyllum located in an old-growth temperate rainforest of Olympic National Park.

Sequences suggested fungal diversities differ between canopy and forest floor soils.

To test the functional roles of these diverse mutualists, a larger-scale experimental manipulation of water, DNA analyses and imaging is being pursued.

Her research project will experimentally reduce or increase precipitation levels on 18 old-growth A. macrophyllum trees in two similar temperate rainforest stands.

During the experimental drought manipulation, fungal communities from both forest floor and canopy rooting systems will be sequenced and stained for fluorescent microscopy.

Also, changes in available phosphorous will be assessed in drought to determine if seasonal rainfall regimes and resulting nutrient availabilities are a determining factor in the structure of these fungal communities.

Mafune received her bachelor’s degree in restoration ecology and environmental horticulture from the University of Washington in 2013.

She completed her master’s degree in 2015 and is now in her second year of Ph.D. research.

She works closely with Daniel and Kristina Vogt at the interdisciplinary Vogt Lab of Ecosystem and Conservation Ecology.

For more information, contact Frank Hanson at 360-374-4556 or

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