Shalik R. Sigdel, Maan B. Rokaya, Zuzana Münzbergová, Eryuan Liang
Mountain Research and Development 37 (2), 216-223, (1 May 2017) https://doi.org/10.1659/MRD-JOURNAL-D-16-00075.1
KEYWORDS: Alpine region, plant species, soil, caterpillar fungus, Detrended Correspondence Analysis, Nepal
As a valuable entomophagus fungus species, caterpillar fungus (Ophiocordyceps sinensis) is endemic to the alpine meadows of the Tibetan Plateau and adjoining Himalayas. However, little is known about its ecological niche and habitat. We investigated its associated plant species and habitat across different sites in Dolpa, west Nepal, and explored how associated plant species and soil characteristics affect its density and growth during the months of June and July in 2 consecutive years. Detrended correspondence analysis was used to capture the distribution pattern of plant species. Principal component analysis was applied to visualize the gradients of the soil data, and generalized linear models were employed to test the effects of nutrients and vegetation on the availability and size of caterpillar fungus. A total of 33 plant species were frequently associated with caterpillar fungus across the investigated sites. The abundance of the fungus was significantly affected by vegetation composition, whereas the individual fungal traits were independent of soil nutrients or vegetation composition. Therefore, it is essential to protect associated plant species to better conserve caterpillar fungus at high elevations.