Old Growth Forest Diversity
Assistant Professor of Biology Margaret Metz will be the lead PI at Lewis & Clark on a four-year project funded by the National Science Foundation’s Dimensions of Biodiversity Program, “Dynamical interactions between plant and oomycete biodiversity in a temperate forest.” This four year project will bring $127,355 to Lewis & Clark to support field research by Dr. Metz and eight Lewis & Clark undergraduate students. Dr. Metz will lead investigations into interactions of oomycetes and seedling dynamics and their potential role in maintaining forest diversity at the Wind River Forest Dynamics Plot. Located in the Columbia Gorge near Carson, Washington, Wind River is a 500-year old Douglas Fir/Western Hemlock forest—one of the few remaining old-growth forests in the Pacific Northwest. This highly collaborative project will also involve researchers from Oregon State University, Southern Oregon University, and Utah State University, examining everything from oomycete genomics and transcripteomics to coevolutionary dynamics of the trees and pathogens. Oomycetes, or water molds, are fungus-like plant pathogens that are well known as destructive agricultural pests. Very little is known about their diversity or ecological roles in forests where they are native and abundant. In addition to improving the management of natural ecosystems and the diseases that occur within them, the project will provide valuable hands-on training for undergraduate students from multiple institutions. More about the project and grant award is available here.