Biotic mutualistic interactions are a main driving force in evolution and maintenance of biodiversity and ecosystem dynamics. Mycorrhizas are probably the most wide spread mutualistic interactions in the mega diverse tropical forests. Although knowledge on mycorrhizas increased significantly during the last 30 years, data from tropical forest ecosystems are still rare. At same time most of these ecosystems are highly endangered and disappearing rapidly. We therefore aim to promote interest and activities in research on mycorrhizas in tropical forests by inviting to this workshop.
Why do we invite and why to this place?
The area of Loja, Southern Ecuador, is one of the hottest hotspots of biodiversity of the world and was declared UNESCO Biosphere Reserve “Podocarpus-El Condór” in September 2007. The biosphere reserve covers mountain rain forests, bushy páramos, tropical lowland forests and seasonally dry forests.
Since 2001 investigations on mycorrhizas in the tropical mountain rain forest are carried out by us at the reserve Estación Scientífica San Francisco (ECSF) situated at 1820 m a.s.l., halfway between Loja and Zamora. The still ongoing studies showed omnipresence of mycorrhizas for trees, ericads, ferns, orchids, heterotrophic plant and some liverworts. New types of interaction were discovered and an unexpected multitude of mycobionts proven by molecular phylogeny. For further information see www.mycorrhiza-research.de
Mycorrhizal research is embedded in interdisciplinary DFG-projects (FOR 402 and FOR 816) that cover a broad range of organisms, ecosystem dynamics and restoration efforts ( www.bergregenwald.de; www.tropicalmountainforest.org).
See: Beck E, Bendix J, Kottke I, Makeschin F, Mosandl R (eds.) 2008 Gradients in a Tropical Mountain Ecosystem of Ecuador. Series Ecological Studies 198, Springer Verlag, Berlin, Heidelberg