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Hyphomycetes decaying the litter of Thuja plicata Donn Dunn, Michael Thomas


The present study was undertaken to examine the litter decay fungi of red cedar (Thuja piicata Donn). The fungi involved in conifer litter decay have not been examined intensively and there has been no study of red cedar litter decay. Since Thuja is often found in wet, poorly drained areas, it provided an opportunity to observe occurrence of litter decay fungi relative to slight differences in distance from a stream margin. This was determined by observing changes in the frequency of the fungi at various distances from the margin of a stream and also by observing seasonal changes in fungal populations. An ordination of the data was performed to determine if there were species associations which would characterize the relatively minor horizontal and vertical spatial changes in the sites. The sites were divided into subsites (high, middle and low with respect to the stream) and samples were taken at each subsite. Red cedar branchlets from the L and F litter layers were washed and plated on a selective medium or placed in moist chambers; all observed species were isolated and identified. Most of these were members of the Fungi Imperfecti. The frequency of occurrence of the more commonly isolated species was utilized in a Principal Components Analysis (PCA) to determine associations of subsites, layers or species. There was little distinction between the three subsites, but there was a general separation of the high subsite from the low subsite, the middle subsite showing affinities to both. The L and F layers represented a division of the litter layer which formed more distinct clusters in the ordination, especially in the Site B data. Seasonal distinction among the samples seemed to reflect the extremes of the seasons. The spring and summer samples generally grouped together, as did the fall and winter samples. Species associations reflected various combinations of the above groupings, depending on the species groups involved. Again the most distinct groups represented extremes, e.g., species prominent in dry samples, especially in the high subsite, or species prominent in moist conditions, especially in the low subsite. No single variable provided clear distinction among the various subsites, layers, seasons or species. However, the combination of all of these gave general indications as to probable fungal associations.

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