Paper No. 9-53
Presentation Time: 8:00 AM-12:00 PM
FUNGI IN A WARMER WORLD – FUNGAL DIVERSITY IN THE TROPICAL MIDDLE MIOCENE CLIMATE OPTIMUM OF THE CLARKIA REGION OF IDAHO, USA
Microfungi are a key component of ecosystems as they are one of the main drivers of plant diversity and nutrient cycling. Understanding extant fungal assemblage composition in relation to climate allows us to apply the co-existence approach to fossil fungal records. This provides a powerful tool for interpreting local changes during the Miocene Climatic Optimum (MCO), as unlike many botanical proxies, fungi tend to be preserved very close to their original substrate. This paper focuses on the fungal diversity in samples collected from the well-studied Clarkia lagerstätten of Idaho, USA. The assemblage is very diverse, and contains examples of all fungal trophic modes. This study is among the first from Clarkia to apply the co-existence approach directly to fossil fungi, and as such is foundational to the assembly of a long-term, large-scale database of MCO fungal assemblages used to model paleoclimates and predict future fungal assemblage dynamics with climate change.