Table 2.1 Ecosystem Services Provided by Fungi

Ecosystem service

Soil formation

Providing fertility for primary production

Primary production

Plant community structure Secondary production

Modification of pollutants Carbon sequestration and storage

Rock dissolution

Particle binding Decomposition or organic residues Nutrient mineralization

Soil stability (aggregates)

Direct production Nutrient accessibility Plant yield

Defense against pathogens

Defense against herbivory Plant-plant interactions As a food source Population/biomass regulation

Fungi functional group

Lichens, Saprotrophs,

Mycorrhizae Saprotrophs, Mycorrhizae Saprotrophs, (Ericoid and ectomycorrhizae) Saprotrophs, (Ericoid and ectomycorrhizae) Saprotrophs, (Arbuscular mycorrhizae Lichens Mycorrhizae Mycorrhizae, pathogens Mycorrhizae, Endophytes,

Saprotrophs Endophytes

Mycorrhizae, pathogens Saprotrophs, Mycorrhizae Pathogens

Saprotrophs, Mycorrhizae Mycorrhizae, (Saprotrophs)

Note: Services to be considered in this chapter are in bold face. Fungal groups in parentheses are regarded as of lesser importance in that function.

The bulk of the chapter will deal with terrestrial ecosystems, as this is where most of the information on these processes had been derived. The impact of decomposition activity within terrestrial ecosystems has a profound effect on the fertility of streams and rivers by the process of leaching. Here, nutrient elements in water percolate through the soil into water courses, carrying soluble nutrients derived in the terrestrial environment that have not been immobilized into land plant tissue.

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