2019 RAP Award
SUNY ESF – Doctoral Candidate
Study of mycorrhizae fungi in the forest soil
RAP student, Andy Cortese from SUNY ESF, is studying the mycorrhizae fungi in the forest soil in Mianus River Gorge Preserve. The soils have developed a complicated underground network of mycorrhizal fungi that are hundreds of years old (visible mushrooms are the fruiting bodies of this network). These fungi, which do not exist in the adjacent lands that were once cultivated, are critical to a hemlock seedling’s germination and growth, as well as the tree’s ability to use the nutrients in the soil. Andy will examine the below-ground mycorrhizal community associated with old-growth and secondary growth forests, and how it may change according to the health of the hemlock stands (in particular, with regard to infestation rates by the hemlock woolly adelgid). Andy is also mentoring WTP student Allison Lyubomirskaya, who is looking at the survival and (mycorrhizal) root colonization of seedlings that grow on “nursery” logs vs. on the ground soil.