Things are going to start heating up around Corvallis as spring approaches. Particularly relevant to the coming morel season, April's Tap Talk will explore what happens to your favorite forest mushrooms after a big burn.
Contemporary fires have created high-severity burn areas exceeding historical distributions in forests in the western US. Until recently, the response of soil ecosystems to high intensity burns has been largely unknown. This presentation will focus on the environmental effect of extreme soil heating, such that occurs with the complete combustion of large downed wood during wildfires, on soil fungi. The findings highlight the fungal community responses to fires and the differences among fires of various severities. Topics discussed will include: high severity wildfires, forest restoration, post-fire fungi including morels, and ecosystem functions of fungi.
ABOUT DR. JANE SMITH
Jane E. Smith is a research botanist with the Pacific Northwest Research Station in Corvallis, Oregon. She earned her doctorate in botany and plant pathology and a master’s degree in forest ecology at Oregon State University, and holds a bachelor’s degree in botany from Humboldt State University in Arcata, California. When most people see a forest, they only see it from the ground up. But when others, like Jane Smith, see trees above, they also see soil fungi and other microbes below, which play a critical role in linking the above—and below ground components of forest communities. Her research has focused on fungal diversity, ecosystem dynamics, and soil recovery in response to wildfire, restoration thinning, and prescribed fire. How an ecosystem recovers aboveground after a disturbance, like a fire, is directly linked to the survival of mycorrhizal and other fungi below ground. Knowledge of their vulnerability, resistance, and resilience to environmental stresses assists forest managers in selecting fuel-reducing restoration treatments that maintain critical soil processes.