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Airborne fungal colonisation of coarse woody debris in North Temperate Picea abies forest: impact of season and local spatial scale

  • Rimvydas VASILIAUSKAS (a1), Vaidotas LYGIS (a1), Karl-Henrik LARSSON (a2) and Jan STENLID (a1)

Abstract

Coarse woody debris is important for mycodiversity in forest ecosystems, but its availability in managed stands is reduced. Leaving dead wood during felling is suggested as an option to sustain and restore the diversity. However, little is known what fungi would colonise freshly cut wood left on managed sites, and how the colonisation process is influenced by ecological factors. During summer and autumn, 120 freshly cut Picea abies stem sections over 8 cm in diameter were placed upright in mapped locations over two discrete plots separated by 100 m in a north-temperate forest. After seven weeks the sections were collected, and isolation and identification of fungi was done from their upper surfaces. In all 943 fungal strains were isolated, representing 97 species. Species richness in the summer survey was 42.5% higher than during the autumn survey. Low species similarity characterized the different seasons (Sorensen indices: SS=0.36 and SN=0.34) and for 21 species (22%) observation frequency was significantly affected by season. As a result, community structures in summer and autumn differed notably (z-test; P<0.001). Species richness between the two plots differed by less than 10%, but there were 64 species (66%) found only in one of them, thus qualitative similarity was low (SS=0.49). Quantitative similarity was higher (SN=0.63), indicating that the dominant species colonised wood to a similar extent in both areas. Fungal community structure differed significantly among the two plots (z-test; P<0.001). Our data showed that freshly cut CWD contributed to mycodiversity in managed north-temperate forest, providing habitats for numerous individuals from over 100 species. The fungal community within a single stand differed markedly both across small distances and over the seasons. In order to sustain and enhance mycodiversity in managed stands, coarse wood should always be left during harvesting. This study also demonstrates the importance of molecular identification and ITS sequence databases for exploring fungal diversity in natural communities.

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