Fungi are the primary decomposers of organic matter in terrestrial ecosystems. In order to understand decomposition, it is critical to know how species interact and why species identities change during the decomposition process. This project aims to improve understanding of the community basis for fungal decomposition by developing a model system for decomposition using coprophilous fungi. Dung represents a real habitat that is amenable to rigorous ecological experimentation and is home to a natural community of organisms with pre-existing biological resources. Many common dung fungi have been adapted as model laboratory organisms for genetics and cell biology. While the work will take place primarily in the laboratory, it will be based on a natural system – Point Reyes National Seashore in Marin County, California.
Proposer’s Name: Kabir Peay, Stanford University