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Macroecology of high-elevation myxomycete assemblages in the northern Neotropics

Abstract

A number of recent studies have been directed towards developing a more complete understanding of myxomycete ecology throughout the world. However, the lack of comparative data obtained using standard methodologies makes the results of these studies somewhat speculative. The objective of this investigation was to examine the evidence of macroecological patterns in myxomycete assemblages in high-elevation areas of the northern Neotropics. For this, a series of study areas in Mexico, Guatemala, and Costa Rica, as well as two external study areas (one in the United States and the other in Thailand), were selected to compare the diversity-environment relationships exhibited by myxomycetes. Altogether, the 2592 moist chamber cultures prepared yielded a total of 1377 myxomycete records, representing 89 different species. A trend of decreasing species richness with decreasing latitude was observed for the species assemblages associated with the study areas in the Neotropics. As latitude increased, species assemblages in the Neotropical study areas became increasingly similar to the temperate study area. The difference in species richness between study areas in Mexico and Thailand, along with the results obtained for a series of macroclimatic patterns evaluated in the study areas of the Neotropical region, suggests that forest structure plays an important role in the structure of myxomycete assemblages. In contrast, soil chemical characteristics and the pH of the substrates present seem to be indirectly related to the diversity estimators used for analysis, suggesting that they are probably more important at a smaller ecological scale.

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Acknowledgements

Appreciation is extended to Randall Valverde, Arturo Estrada-Torres, Osberth Morales, Todd Osmundson, Mercedes Rodríguez-Palma, Alicia Tuggle, Amanda Bates, Maria Julia Vargas, Federico Valverde, Kevin Hyde, and Thida Win Ko Ko for their valuable assistance during the research process. We are also grateful to the institutional support received from different departments and programs, including the Costa Rican Amistad-Pacifico Conservation Area, the University of Costa Rica, the University of San Carlos in Guatemala, the National Autonomous University of Tlaxcala, the Mushroom Research Centre in Thailand, and both the National Park Service and the University of Arkansas in the United States. In addition, we would like to express our gratitude to the settlements of La Ventoza, Llanos de San Miguel, and the municipality of Todos Santos Cuhumatán in Huehuetenango, Guatemala, for granting permission and offering the security that allowed us to work in protected indigenous areas. Finally, we would like to thank two anonymous reviewers for their constructive suggestions to improve this paper. This project was funded by a grant from the National Science Foundation (DEB-0316284).

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Correspondence to Carlos Rojas.

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Appendix 1

Illustration of the non-significant relation between soil richness (as the correlation between total exchange capacity and organic matter) and species richness (numerical values associated with points) in the study areas (JPEG 71 kb)

Appendix 2

Table 4 Values for the Sørensen coefficient of community (upper right) and the Bray-Curtis distance (lower left) across study areas. Letter codes are used for all study areas (see below)

Appendix 3

Table 5 Summary of values obtained for parameters measured during the soil analysis. The number of species found in each study area is also provided

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Rojas, C., Stephenson, S.L. & Huxel, G.R. Macroecology of high-elevation myxomycete assemblages in the northern Neotropics. Mycol Progress 10, 423–437 (2011). https://doi.org/10.1007/s11557-010-0713-2

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Keywords

  • Diversity
  • Community structure
  • Ecological niche
  • Latitudinal gradient
  • Myxogastrids