A SURVEY OF CORTICOLOUS MYXOMYCETES IN THE TAXODIUM DOMINATED CANOPY OF ANTIOCH BAY: A CAROLINA BAY IN HOKE COUNTY NORTH CAROLINA Abstract: The purpose of this survey is to characterize the corticolous myxomycete community within the Taxodium dominated canopy of Antioch Bay. To achieve this, 36 trees near randomly selected points throughout the bay were climbed using the double rope method in order to sample bark at three meter increments along the trunk axis. The bark samples were placed into moist cultures in order to promote the growth and development of any myxomycetes present in or on the bark. Myxomycete fruiting bodies from the cultures will be identified and preserved as herbarium samples. The stratified-random sampling scheme employed during tree selection will enable the statistical analysis of the abundance and diversity of the corticolous myxomycete community within the bay. The vertical-sampling scheme utilized in bark sample collection will permit the statistical representation of the vertical distribution of the corticolous myxomycete community within the bay. CORTICOLOUS MYXOMYCETES Myxomycetes are single celled eukaryotes that form a multi-nucleated plasmodium before fruiting. Corticolous Myxomycetes are those that complete their lifecycle within and on the bark of living trees and vines. The Myxos are currently classified as Protozoans, although historically they have been classified as animals, fungi, and plants. Canopy research methodology has yielded many uncommon or rare species that have turned out to be common in the canopy, as well as many species new to science (Keller and Brooks, 1973). Sampling Protocol Radial lines were used to divide the bay from the center point to the edges into six sectors. The bay was also divided by three concentric rings from the edge of the bay to 20m, from 21m to 80m, and from 81m to the center creating “zones.” One point was randomly selected in each zone of each sector for a total of 18 randomly selected sampling points. At each point, the two largest Taxodium trees nearest to the point were selected for sampling and assigned a number and GPS coordinates. The distance and direction from the point, and DBH was recorded for each. Bark was sampled at 3m increments from 3m above the ground to the highest point attainable using the DbRT. In the lab, bark was cultured for the presents of myxomycetes using the moist culture technique described in Snell and Keller 2003. The double rope climbing technique (DbRT) The DbRT uses a rope doubled over a limb and tied off to the climbers harness. A climbing hitch or mechanical rope grab is then used to secure the climber to the running end of the climbing rope. Once the rope is set in this fashion, the climber can safely move up and down the tree trunk and hold a steady position at any point allowing the climber to use both hands to remove bark samples from the tree. This climbing technique does not require the use of climbing spikes or cause injury to the tree. Bill Hickman Acknowledgements: A debt of gratitude is owed to many people for making this project possible. The UNC-Pembroke Biology Department chairman Dr. Ash and my senior investigator on this project, Deborah Hanmer were instrumental in providing approval, tools, and equipment necessary for the undertaking of this endeavor. Thanks to Dr. Lisa Kelly of the UNC-P Biology Department and to Dr. Jon Stucky and Jimmy Sugar of NC State University for assistance in survey design. Thanks to The Nature Conservancy, owner and steward of Antioch Bay, for permitting the sampling required for the project. And a special thanks to Dr. Harold Keller, myxomycologist at CMSU-Warrensburg for assistance in specimen identification, survey design, and sampling protocol. <ul><li>REFERENCES: </li></ul><ul><li>Howard, George A. “The Carolina Bays.”1997. http:// georgehoward.net/cbays.htm </li></ul><ul><li>Keller, Harold and Travis E. Brooks. “Corticolous Myxomycetes I: Two New Species of Didymium.” Mycologia 65. 2, 1973:286-294. JSTOR. http://jstor.org </li></ul><ul><li>Nifong, Timothy David. “An Ecosystem tic Analysis of Carolina Bays in the Coastal Plain of the </li></ul><ul><li>Carolinas.” 1998. UNC Library: Botany Theses and Dissertations http://www.lib.unc.edu/biology/theses.html#N </li></ul><ul><li>Snell, Kenneth and Harold Keller. “Vertical Distribution and Assemblages of Corticolous Myxomycetes on Five Tree Species in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park.” Mycologia , 95.4, 2003:565-576. </li></ul><ul><li>“ An Inventory of the Significant Natural Areas of Hoke County, North Carolina.” North Carolina Natural Heritage Program. September 2004. </li></ul><ul><li>ALL PHOTOS: Hickman, Bill. 2006-. </li></ul>Antioch Bay has been designated a nationally significant natural area by the North Carolina Natural Heritage Program because it is one of the few remaining high quality clay-based Carolina Bays and is inhabited by ten rare plant and seven rare animal species (NC Natural Heritage Program 2004). The Carolina Bays Found throughout the Atlantic Coastal Plain, the Carolina Bays are elliptical depression wetlands with similar northwest to southeast orientations (Nifong 1996). Antioch Bay, a Carolina Bay in Hoke County NC, most of which is a dedicated nature preserve under the ownership of The Nature Conservancy, is about 42 acres of Cypress savanna with a diverse groundcover and an open canopy dominated by the tree species Taxodium ascendens Brongn . , with Nyssa biflora Walter, Pinus taeda L . , Liquidambar styraciflua L, and Acer rubrum L.