Spore sensitivity to sunlight and freezing can restrict dispersal in wood-decay fungi

Veera Maria Norros, Elina Karhu, Jenni Nordén, Anssi Vesa Vähätalo, Otso Tapio Ovaskainen

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review


Assessment of the costs and benefits of dispersal is central to understanding species' life-history strategies as well as explaining and predicting spatial population dynamics in the changing world. While mortality during active movement has received much attention, few have studied the costs of passive movement such as the airborne transport of fungal spores. Here, we examine the potential of extreme environmental conditions to cause dispersal mortality in wood-decay fungi. These fungi play a key role as decomposers and habitat creators in forest ecosystems and the populations of many species have declined due to habitat loss and fragmentation. We measured the effect of simulated solar radiation (including ultraviolet A and B) and freezing at -25 degrees C on the spore germinability of 17 species. Both treatments but especially sunlight markedly reduced spore germinability in most species, and species with thin-walled spores were particularly light sensitive. Extrapolating the species' laboratory responses to natural irradiance conditions, we predict that sunlight is a relevant source of dispersal mortality at least at larger spatial scales. In addition, we found a positive effect of spore size on spore germinability, suggesting a trade-off between dispersal distance and establishment. We conclude that freezing and particularly sunlight can be important sources of dispersal mortality in wood-decay fungi which can make it difficult for some species to colonize isolated habitat patches and habitat edges.
Original languageEnglish
JournalEcology and Evolution
Issue number16
Pages (from-to)3312-3326
Number of pages15
Publication statusPublished - 2015
MoE publication typeA1 Journal article-refereed

Fields of Science

  • 1181 Ecology, evolutionary biology
  • Basidiomycetes
  • connectivity
  • germination
  • habitat fragmentation
  • life-history evolution
  • long-distance dispersal
  • mortality
  • movement
  • spore viability
  • stress tolerance
  • ultraviolet radiation
  • self-inhibitor

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