Data from: Long-lasting modification of soil fungal diversity associated with the introduction of rabbits to a remote sub-Antarctic archipelago
Pansu, Johan et al. (2015), Data from: Long-lasting modification of soil fungal diversity associated with the introduction of rabbits to a remote sub-Antarctic archipelago, Dryad, Dataset, https://doi.org/10.5061/dryad.t8534
During the late nineteenth century, Europeans introduced rabbits to many of the sub-Antarctic islands, environments that prior to this had been devoid of mammalian herbivores. The impacts of rabbits on indigenous ecosystems are well studied; notably, they cause dramatic changes in plant communities and promote soil erosion. However, the responses of fungal communities to such biotic disturbances remain unexplored. We used metabarcoding of soil extracellular DNA to assess the diversity of plant and fungal communities at sites on the sub-Antarctic Kerguelen Islands with contrasting histories of disturbance by rabbits. Our results suggest that on these islands, the simplification of plant communities and increased erosion resulting from the introduction of rabbits have driven compositional changes, including diversity reductions, in indigenous soil fungal communities. Moreover, there is no indication of recovery at sites from which rabbits were removed 20 years ago. These results imply that introduced herbivores have long-lasting and multifaceted effects on fungal biodiversity as well as highlight the low resiliency of sub-Antarctic ecosystems.