The research, which was published Dec. 9 in Molecular Ecology, focused on two ecosystems in these parks, oak woodland and mixed evergreen forest. As the researchers expected, analysis of dozens of soil samples established that, among the areas that had not burned, the ecosystems contained a different mix of soil fungi. The analysis also showed that, when comparing burned and unburned areas, the oak woodland soil fungal community was less altered by the fires than those in the evergreen forests. This aligns with the fact that oak woodlands depend on regular fire to thrive, whereas evergreen forests are less dependent on fire to survive. The researchers have continued this work by planting seedlings in some of the soil samples – those results will be detailed in a future paper. They are also hoping to find out more about the physiological mechanisms that could explain the responses of the fungi.
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