What Life Amongst the Clouds Tells Us About Global Warming

March 11, 2016

c. looby

Tropical montane cloud forests (TMCF) are characterized by persistent cloud cover. Unfortunately, the cloud layer is rising due to global warming, leading to drier and warmer conditions.  Ecology and Evolutionary Biology Ph.D. candidates, Caitlin Looby and Mia Maltz, and their advisor Professor Kathleen K. Treseder, have recently published research investigating how TMCF ecosystem shifts affect resident fungal species in Monteverde, Costa Rica.

TMCF ecosystems are undergoing rapid shifts as species either go extinct, or are forced to follow their optimal climates to higher elevations.  In Looby’s study, they found that soil fungi, specifically those responsible for breaking down plant material, are less diverse at higher elevations. Their results suggest that climate change could have a significant impact on fungal diversity as higher elevations become warmer and drier.

The fully study is now available online in Ecology & Evolution.