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SPRING MUSHROOMS OF ST. CROIX STATE PARK (MN) IN SIX HABITATS
Peter J. Guerin, Student, Edgewood High School (Madison, WI)
Mushrooms are an important part of an ecosystem because they decompose dead organisms and supply the soil and plants with nutrients. A survey of mushrooms was conducted in St. Croix State Park (MN) in June, 2008 as part of a field science education course. The study included measurements of the number of mushroom species, amount of sunlight, relative humidity, soil composition, and temperature. Several sites were chosen across a range of habitats including mesic hardwood, deciduous forest, wetland edge, pine forest, river bank, and a clear cut open area. The coniferous forest had the most diverse mushroom population of all the habitat types surveyed. An inverse relationship was found between the amount of sunlight and number of mushrooms. This trend was not observed on riverbank habitats, where mushrooms were found in direct sunlight, suggesting that higher moisture makes the riverbank area a good place for mushroom growth.