This award supports cooperation between Steven Stephenson, Fairmont State College, Fairmont, West Virginia, and Peter Johnston, Manaaki Whenua Landcare Research, Aland, New Zealand, on "Myxomycetes and Fungi associated with Alpine Snowbank Habitats in New Zealand." The organisms to be studied, plasmodial slime molds associated with alpine snowbanks, are part of a group of myxomycetes that are restricted to alpine areas and constitute a distinct ecological group. Snowbank myxomycetes are known to occur in New Zealand, but have never been collected and studied to any real extent. In this project, Dr. Stephenson and two undergraduate students will travel to New Zealand to conduct the necessary fieldwork in the alpine snowbank habitats together with Dr. Johnston.
Establishing biodiversity baselines is an important aspect of the proposed work. In considering issues of global climate change, and its implications, a comprehensive understanding of organisms in a given ecoregion will be an important resource for tracking species change in response to climate change. Obtaining such knowledge is a basic and necessary prerequisite to developing a more complete understanding of the structure and function of the ecosystems in which these organisms occur.