Orchids: which factors determine their distribution?

Main area:Ecology
Target group:Biology
Educational level:Masters, Bachelor
Project description:

Wild orchids are often considered important indicators of valuable nature; thus all orchid-species are protected in Denmark. Orchids are often found in valuable natural habitats, for example, on “Høje Møn” and in “Allindelille Fredsskov”. At locations where orchids occur, their distribution is frequently patchy; moreover orchids often pop up in "weird" places such as e.g. garden lawns. This suggests that very specific conditions govern their occurrence. Important factors that determine their distribution are likely both abiotic (pH, lime content, humidity, etc.) and biotic i.e. specific soil-organisms. Most important are probably the fungi that the orchids parasitize “orchid mycorrhiza”.

In the project you will work at sites where the wild orchids grow. You will investigate which factors that correlate with orchids occurrence. The results of the project may affect the concrete actions in conservation and restoration.

This project is part of a broader research initiative where we study relations between plants and biotic and abiotic belowground-factors.

You can approach the problem in different ways, which will determine more specifically the methods you will use

Methods used:Plant identification. Field-sampling and mapping. Identification of soil fungi. PCR and sequencing. Analyses of soil properties. Others depending on the specific project.
Keywords:Plant-soil interactions, Orchids, Symbiosis, Fungi, Conservation
Supervisor(s):  Flemming Ekelund, Rasmus Kjøller