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What Do Fungi and Sulfur Do in the Environment?

Fungi are very important parts of the ecosystem as they perform many tasks and contribute in many ways. One of the most important roles that fungi play in the ecosystem is the process of decomposition. During this process, the fungi convert organic matter that is unusable to organisms into forms that are easier to use. The results from the process of fungi decomposition are very vital in providing nutrients for the soil to use, which helps the ecosystem. Fungi release digestive enzymes that turn different organic compounds into nutrients. Plants rely on decomposers like fungi to provide nutrients that can be taken up their roots. Through fungi and the process of decomposition, nutrients like sulfate along with others are metabolized and replenished into the soil through organic material. Image result for fungi
Sulfur is one of these necessary nutrients for plants and animals. Sulfur is needed to form plant enzymes and other as well as some vitamins. Hence, it is essential to the production of chlorophyll and for the process of photosynthesis. Soil temperature and moisture are big factors that determine how much sulfate is available to plants, and cold weather as well as water level extremes (both high and low) reduce sulfate’s mobility and therefore its availability. In most soils, Sulfate is relatively mobile, however it is easily leached out from sandy soils.



Our Experiment!
As we were examining the E.S.S.R.E. 2017 Biota Survey, we noticed that the amount of sulfate in Microclimates 1 and 2 did not make sense compared to the amount of fungi found there. Due to this, we decided to research and conduct our experiment, in hopes to find out why this was happening, and if we could find any patterns. For our experiment, we collected data about Humus, Sulfate and mold levels. We conducted these tests to find any patterns, and to test our hypothesis. To do this, we went outside to our Microclimates, and took soil core samples using a soil extractor. We then came inside to the lab and created soil extractions in order to test Sulfate and Humus levels. By doing these processes, we are able to find out what is happening out in the ecosystem!

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