I am investigating the patterns and drivers of the diversity
of cord-forming fungi at both a local woodland scale and across the UK. Cord forming fungi are species whose hyphae
group together and differentiate functionally to form specialised organs for
foraging and soluble nutrient transport, which can be up to 5mm in diameter.
Cords are found most commonly at the soil-litter interface and can form
networks up to 30m wide. They are hypothesised to have roles in homogenisation
of nutrient availability across the forest floor, and pathogenicity, with
cascade effects upon woodland health and productivity.
My work focusses on using a variety of techniques from
molecular work to modelling to fieldwork in order to address these questions
As well as small and medium scale mapping projects, species distribution modelling and phylogenetic
analyses, the DPhil will include a citizen science aspect dubbed FungiWatch (http://www.fungiwatch.org.uk/) , due
to be launched in May 2012 which will attempt to harness the power of the
public for ground truthing and collection of fungi.
I am also involved in other projects running parallel to
that of my DPhil, sponsored by external funding bodies. These projects include:
Peace: Species interactions on Hogacre Common
A Royal Society Partnership Grant funded
project in collaboration with St Ebbe’s CE (Aided) Primary School (http://www.st-ebbes.oxon.sch.uk/)
The project aims to identify the biological
diversity on Hogacre common (a piece of common land, leased to the community
from Corpus Christi College, Oxford) through a series of child-devised
projects. Older years will focus more on restoration of old playing field to
meadow to provide a community benefit.
regeneration and re-colonisation of cleared stands of Rhododendron ponticum.
A project jointly funded by the Lundy Field
Society and the Botanical Society of the British Isles. This project aims:
To identify patterns of fungal regeneration and
succession on cleared rhododendron stands.
To suggest ways in which observed fungi modify
soil properties to facilitate colonisation of degraded land by other plants.
The results of this project will be directly
relevant to land management practices as it will determine ways in which the
environment needs to be manipulated post-clearance to facilitate
re-establishment of native species of plants and fungi.