Biodiversity and Conservation

, Volume 18, Issue 2, pp 419–455 | Cite as

Latitudinal, habitat and substrate distribution patterns of freshwater ascomycetes in the Florida Peninsula

  • Huzefa A. Raja
  • John Paul Schmit
  • Carol A. Shearer
Original Paper


Freshwater ascomycetes are important decomposers of dead woody and herbaceous debris in aquatic habitats. Despite evidence of their ecological importance, latitudinal, habitat and substrate distributional patterns of freshwater ascomycetes are poorly understood. In this study, we examined the latitudinal and habitat distributional patterns, and substrate recurrences of freshwater ascomycetes by collecting dead submerged woody and herbaceous debris in lentic and lotic habitats at five selected sites along a north-central-south, temperate–subtropical latitudinal ecotone in Florida. One hundred and thirty-two fungal taxa were collected during the study. Seventy-four were meiosporic and 56 were mitosporic ascomycetes, while two species were basidiomycetes. Canonical analyses of principal coordinates (CAP) and Sørenson’s similarity index of species based on presence/absence data revealed a high turnover in species composition between the northern and southern sites, indicating a change in species composition along the temperate–subtropical latitudinal ecotone of the Florida Peninsula. Results from the ordination analysis indicated that freshwater ascomycete community composition is not significantly different between lentic and lotic habitats in Florida. The geographically broadly distributed species and species commonly found in Florida occurred in both habitats, whereas a number of new or rare species occurred in either lentic or lotic habitats, but not both. The same freshwater ascomycete species did not necessarily occur on both woody and herbaceous debris; of the 132 taxa collected, 100 were reported only on woody debris; 14 species occurred exclusively on herbaceous debris; and 18 species were found on both woody and herbaceous debris in lentic or lotic habitats. Implications of data from this study to the conservation and knowledge of biodiversity for freshwater ascomycetes is discussed.


Aquatic habitats Biogeography Freshwater fungi 



We thank Dr. Andrew N. Miller, Christopher Brown, and Dr. J.L. Crane for their assistance with collecting. Appreciation is expressed to the rangers at Blackwater River State Forest, Apalachicola National Forest and Ocala National Forest, for permission to collect within the forests. We are grateful to the Superintendent of Big Cypress National Preserve and Everglades National Park for providing permits to collect aquatic fungi. Financial support of this study by the National Science Foundation (NSF Grant No. DEB 03-16496) and the National Institutes of Health (NIH Grant No. R01GM-60600), Clark Research Grant from Integrative Biology, UIUC, and The Mycological Society of America Graduate Fellowship Award are gratefully acknowledged. Any opinions, findings, and conclusions or recommendations expressed in this publication are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the views of the National Science Foundation and National Institutes of Health. This work represents a portion of a thesis in partial fulfillment of the requirements for the doctoral degree at the Graduate College of the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.


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Authors and Affiliations

  • Huzefa A. Raja
    • 1
  • John Paul Schmit
    • 2
  • Carol A. Shearer
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of Plant BiologyUniversity of Illinois at Urbana – ChampaignUrbanaUSA
  2. 2.Smithsonian Institution, Smithsonian Environmental Research CenterEdgewaterUSA

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