Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy


Ecology and Evolutionary Biology

Major Professor

Aimée T. Classen

Committee Members

Christopher W. Schadt, P. Brandon Matheny, James A. Fordyce


Climatic warming is altering species distributions and ecosystem functions across the globe. Wood is an important carbon pool and the fungal communities in wood are relatively simple compared to those in soil. These factors make decomposing wood an ideal system for exploring the influence of decomposer community on the response of decomposition to warming. My research has focused on the effects of warming wood decomposition rates and wood decomposing communities. Using field and lab- based manipulative experiments and field observations I explore the influence of tree species, wood decomposition stage, geography and warming on fungal community structure and activity. In chapter one I observe differences in the fungal community structure and potential activity between wood from Pinus taeda and Liquidambar styraciflua logs. In chapter two I observe changes in fungal and bacterial abundance, fungal community structure, and decomposition rate across logs in different stages of decomposition, but there is no interaction between decomposition stage and warming on respiration rates. In chapter three I observe differences in the decomposer community in Acer rubrum wood at two sites and differences in the response of wood decomposition to warming. My work shows that the effects of warming on decomposition rate and carbon flux from decomposing wood can vary by site and between wood types and suggest more work is needed to understand the role of decomposer communities in altering the response of wood decomposition to warming.

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