, Volume 19, Issue 5, pp 1401-1415
Date: 10 Jan 2010

Mushroom diversity in sustainable shade tea forest and the effect of fire damage

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A survey of the biodiversity of wild macrofungi, including edible species yields, was carried out from 1 May to 30 September 2007 at four different forest types (in mainly Miang tea forest). The plots 100 m2, comprised a tea garden with a few planted canopy tree species (37.2% canopy cover), a cultivated sustainable tea forest (80.2% canopy cover), an abandoned sustainable tea forest (89.8% canopy cover), and an abandoned sustainable tea forest that had suffered fire damage (72.9% canopy cover). All visible mushrooms were collected during weekly forays. Macro-characters of the fungi were annotated and photographed by digital camera and the fungi were identified to genera and morphospecies (e.g. Agaricus sp.1, Agaricus sp.2). The fresh weight of wild edible mushrooms produced in the plots was also recorded during this period. The biodiversity of macrofungi in abandoned sustainable tea forest was highest with 115 species in 47 genera, followed by cultivated sustainable tea forest with 85 species in 42 genera and fire damaged abandoned sustainable tea forest with 48 species in 25 genera, while only 19 species belonging to 15 genera were found in the tea garden. Twenty-one species belonging to nine genera with a total of 60.9 kg of edible fungi were collected throughout this study. The fresh weight of edible mushrooms was recorded with the highest fresh weight (25.3 kg) collected from the abandoned sustainable tea forest, followed by 18.2 kg in the cultivated sustainable tea forest, while in the fire damaged sustainable tea forest 16.4 kg were collected and only 1 kg was collected in the tea garden. Abandoned sustainable tea forest contained a greater shade tree biodiversity and higher canopy cover than other plots. This area has a generally higher humidity, a greater ground litter cover, a greater number of microhabitats, a greater number of trees that can form mycorrhizal associations and this probably accounts for the higher diversity of macrofungi and production of edible mushrooms. The fire damaged sustainable tea forest had lower mushroom diversity and edible mushroom production possibly due to the loss of litter and lower tree diversity. The tea garden supported a poor diversity of mushrooms and almost no edible mushrooms. Shade tea forest (Miang tea forest) is a good method to produce tea in a sustainable way as it maintains diversity of mushrooms and other organisms and could be developed as an alternative to shade coffee.