The fungal ecology of seabird nesting sites in the Falkland Islands indicates a niche for mycoparasites

Jacob Hargreaves, Paul Brickle, Pieter Van West* (Corresponding Author)

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

3 Citations (Scopus)
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Soil fungal communities are complex and heterogeneous, possessing important functions in most terrestrial ecological systems. Their study has been advanced
due to the development of high-throughput sequencing, which allow for complex fungal communities to be described with techniques such as metabarcoding. The Falkland Islands contain large populations of breeding
seabirds; one such internationally recognised area is Saunders Island, located off the coast of the West Falkland. It contains breeding populations of gentoo penguins (Pygoscelis papua), Magellanic penguins (Spheniscus magellanicus), black-browed albatross (Thalassarche melanophris), king penguins (Aptenodytes patagonicus) and western rockhopper penguins (Eudyptes chrysocome
chrysocome). The fungal communities of these sites were investigated using a fungal metabarcode approach. We found these sites contain a large spatial heterogeneity, with communities that are dominated by saprotrophic fungi. However, we noticed that the most abundant species tended to be known mycoparasites. We hypothesise the fungal communities in system undergo a ‘boom-bust’ cycle of varying alpha diversity which is dependent upon the breeding populations and driven by highly competitive mycoparasitic fungi.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)99-108
Number of pages10
JournalFungal Ecology
Early online date6 Oct 2018
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2018

Bibliographical note

Our work is supported by the BBSRC (BB/M010996/1, BB/N005058/1, BB/P020224/1) (JH, PvW), NERC (NE/P007570/1) (PvW), The South Atlantic Environmental Research Institute (SAERI) (JH) and the University of Aberdeen (PvW). We would like to thank the Pole-Evans family for giving us permission to sample on their land.


  • Metabarcoding
  • Falkland Islands
  • Seabirds
  • Fungi
  • High-throughput sequencing
  • community ecology


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