Current issue: 54(5)
Under compilation: 55(1)
According to ecology theory, isolated habitat fragments cannot maintain populations of specialized species. Yet, empirical evidence based on monitoring of the same fragments over time is still limited. We studied the colonization–extinction dynamics of eight wood-decaying fungal species in 16 old-growth forest fragments (<14 ha) over a 20-year period (1997–2017). We observed 19 extinctions and 5 colonizations; yet, the distribution of extinctions and colonizations did not differ from the one expected by chance for any of the species. Twenty-six percent of the extinctions took place in two natural fragments amid large forest–peatland complexes. Phellinus nigrolimitatus (Romell) Bourdot and Galzin decreased and Phellinus ferrugineofuscus (P. Karst.) Bourdot increased in abundance (number of logs occupied). The volume of living spruce trees in the forest fragments correlated positively with the number of logs inhabited in five of the study species. Because fragment characteristics did not affect species turnover, it seems that stochastic processes governed colonizations and extinctions. Although the least abundant species in 1997 had declined, and the most abundant species had become more abundant, it appears that specialized wood-decaying fungi can persist for decades in isolated old-growth forest fragments, if suitable dead wood is continuously available.
The prefire fungal flora (polypores and corticoid fungi) of 284 dead trees, mainly fallen trunks of Norway spruce (Picea abies (L.) H. Karst.), was studied in 1991 in an old, spruce-dominated mesic forest in Southern Finland. Species diversity of the prefire fungal flora was very high, including a high proportion of locally rare species and four threatened polypore species in Finland.
In 1992 part of the study area (7.3 ha) was clear-cut and a 1.7 ha forest stand in the centre of study area was left standing with a tree volume of 150 m3/ha, and later on (June 1st) in the same year the whole area was burned. Burning was very efficient and all trees in the forest stand were dead one year after the fire. Also, the ground layer burned almost completely.
In 1993 the fungal flora of the 284 sample trees was studied again. Most of the trees had burned strongly and the fungal species diversity and the evenness in community structure had decreased considerably as compared with the prefire community. Species turnover was also great, especially in corticoid fungi. Greatest losses in the species numbers occurred in moderately and strongly decayed trees, in coniferous trees and in very strongly burned trees. Fungal flora of non-decayed and slightly decayed trees, deciduous trees and slightly burned trees seemed to have survived the fire quite well, and in these groups the species numbers had increased slightly as compared with the prefire community.
Fungal species suffering from fire (anthracophobe species) were mainly growing in moderately and strongly decayed trees before the fire, whereas species favoured by fire (anthracophile species) were growing in less decayed trees. No fruitbodies of threatened polypores or other "old-forest species" of polypores were found again after fire. Some very common and effective wood-rotting fungi (e.g. Fomitopsis pinicola, Fomes fomentarius, Antrodia serialis) survived the fire quite well (anthracoxene species). Species favoured by fire were mainly ruderal species which can utilize new, competition-free resources created by fire, and species that have their optima in dry and open places also outside forest-fire areas. Some rarities, e.g. Phanerochaete raduloides and Physisporinus rivulosus, were favoured by fire.