Comparing fungal richness and community composition in coarse woody debris in Central European beech forests under three types of management

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Abstract

Managing forests by selection cutting is a promising silvicultural technique for maintaining forest biodiversity. Despite the importance of fungi in decomposition and nutrient cycling in forest ecosystems, no study to date has investigated the effects of selection cutting on fungal communities, especially using a culture-independent molecular technique to assess more than just the species that are fruiting at the time of sampling. Based on operational taxonomic units (OTUs) found in coarse woody debris, we compared the richness and community composition of wood-inhabiting fungi from selection cutting, age-class, and unmanaged European beech-dominated forests. We found that fungal OTU richness in selection cutting and unmanaged forests was not significantly different (P > 0.05), but it was higher, in both cases, than that in the age-class forest (P = 0.0002). Fungal community composition was not significantly different among the three forest types (P > 0.05). Abundances of common, wood-inhabiting fungal OTUs in different forest types were significantly correlated: the highest and lowest correlations were found between unmanaged forests and selection cutting (ρ = 0.52, P < 0.0001, n = 94), and between unmanaged and age-class forests (ρ = 0.30, P = 0.0080, n = 79), respectively.