DDD Conference

1. Dr. Josu G. Alday

Soil Fungal Communities in Dryland Afforestation Programs; Are We Recovering these Fundamental Elements of the Ecosystem?

University of Lleida, Spain

Restoring degraded ecosystems and especially those located in drylands is one of the most difficult restoration practices that as restoration practitioners we can currently face. The scarcity of water and the new global change effects limit the natural recovery of forest in these areas. As a consequence, it is quite common to plan revegetation programs and tree plantings with the idea of favouring the forest recovery. During the recent years, scientific and practical research has focused mainly on ways to improve tree establishment, however, the recovery and evolution of the soil biotic component remains understudied. The afforestation needs to be in parallel with recovery of the soil biotic component. The soil microbiomes, especially fungi, are globally related with biogeochemical cycles. Soil fungi provide relevant ecosystem services, such as organic matter recycling or carbon sequestration with clear implications in plant performance and composition. Also, some research indicates that mycorrhizas can help the tree in the collection of soil water from soil. Thus, recovering below-ground microbial communities at the same time that we plant trees could be an option to enhance the tree species recovery/survival in these dryland areas. In this talk, I will explain all these concepts and the importance of soil fungi in afforestation programs using the experiments that I develop aiming to restore degraded drylands in Spain.

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