2023 journal article

Linking wood-decay fungal communities to decay rates: Using a long-term experimental manipulation of deadwood and canopy gaps


author keywords: Wood-inhabiting fungi; Decay rate; Northern hardwood forest; Structural complexity; Fungal community; Deadwood; Ecosystem function
UN Sustainable Development Goal Categories
2. Zero Hunger (Web of Science)
15. Life on Land (Web of Science; OpenAlex)
Source: Web Of Science
Added: February 6, 2023

Decomposition transfers carbon (C) from detrital organic matter to soil and atmospheric pools. In forested ecosystems, deadwood accounts for a large proportion of the detrital C pool and is primarily decomposed by wood-inhabiting fungi (WIF). Deadwood reductions linked to forest harvesting may alter WIF richness and composition, thus indirectly influencing the persistence of deadwood and its contribution to C and nutrient cycling. Forest structure was enhanced via canopy gap creation and coarse woody debris (CWD) addition that mimic natural disturbance by windfall within a deciduous northern hardwood forest (Wisconsin, USA) to examine its effect on deadwood-associated biodiversity and function. Experimental sugar maple (Acer saccharum) logs were sampled, for DNA extraction, ten years after placement to determine the assembly of fungal community composition and its relationship to wood decay rates. Our findings suggest that the WIF community responded to gap disturbance by favoring species able to persist under more extreme microclimates caused by gaps. CWD addition under closed canopy tended to favor a different species assemblage from gap creation treatments and the control, where canopy was undisturbed and CWD was not added. This was presumably due to consistent microclimatic conditions and the abundance of CWD substrates for host specialists. Fungal OTU richness was significantly and inversely related to CWD decay rates, likely due to competition for resources. In contrast, fungal OTU composition was not significantly related to CWD decay rates, canopy openness or CWD addition amounts. Our study site represents a diverse fungal community in which complex interactions among wood-inhabiting organisms and abiotic factors are likely to slow CWD decomposition, which suggests that maintaining a biodiverse and microsite-rich ecosystem may enhance the capacity for C storage within temperate forests.