|The objectives of this research project are:|
|To initiate the first survey and inventory of tree canopy biodiversity for myxomycetes, macrofungi, mosses, liverworts and lichens in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park;|
|To assemble a multidisciplinary research team to serve as experts who will collect, identify and curate this diverse group of organisms;|
|To compare the assemblages of tree canopy groups of cryptogams with ground sites;|
|To compare species diversity of the targeted organisms between tree species Juniperus virginiana (Eastern red cedar), Ulmus americana (American elm), Quercus alba (white oak) with other species of Quercus, species of Vitis (grapevine), Fagus grandifolia (American beech), Cornus florida(flowering dogwood), and habitats of opportunity;|
|To search for undescribed taxa new to science in all of the targeted groups of organisms;|
|To involve undergraduate and graduate students at an RUI institution in an exciting research project that will result in postgraduate degrees and a continued professional interest in the study of the targeted groups of organisms.|
|The methodology used
to sample from the tree canopy will be tree climbing techniques that enable the collector
to access the tree tops. Collections will be made on sight in the field and also from
moist chamber cultures in the laboratory.
The significance of this research project will be to document the first baseline biodiversity data from treetops in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. There is some urgency because of the gradual loss of stands of American elms, American beech, and Flowering dogwood due to insect and fungal pathogens. This research will help provide documentation of tree canopy biodiversity before large tracts of tree species are lost in wilderness areas.
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