Neglected role of fungal community composition in explaining variation in wood decay rates

A. Van der Wal, E.G.B. Ottosson, W. De Boer

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Abstract

Decomposition of wood is an important component of global carbon cycling. Most wood decomposition models are based on tree characteristics and environmental conditions; however, they do not include community dynamics of fungi which are the major wood decomposers. We examined the factors explaining variation in sapwood decay in oak tree stumps 2 and 5 years after cutting. Wood moisture content was significantly correlated with sapwood decay in younger stumps, whereas ITS-based composition and species richness of the fungal community were the best predictors for mass loss in the older stumps. Co-occurrence analysis showed that in freshly cut trees and in younger stumps fungal communities were non-randomly structured, whereas fungal communities in old stumps could not be separated from a randomly assembled community. These results indicate that the most important factors explaining variation in wood decay rates can change over time and that the strength of competitive interactions between fungi in decaying tree stumps may level off with increased wood decay. Our field analysis further suggests that ascomycetes may have a prominent role in wood decay, but their wood-degrading abilities need to be further tested under controlled conditions. The next challenging step will be to integrate fungal community assembly processes in wood decay models to improve carbon sequestration estimates of forests. Read More: http://www.esajournals.org/doi/abs/10.1890/14-0242.1
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)124-133
JournalEcology
Volume96
Issue number1
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2015

Keywords

  • NIOO

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