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Deadwood plays a crucial role in the maintenance of biodiversity in forest ecosystems

The journal Forest Ecology and Management has just published a new paper by our team “Predictors of diversity of deadwood-dwelling macrofungi in a European natural forest“. The paper is the result of a scientific experiment set up during the FunDivEUROPE project, the results of which have been analysed in our another international project: Dr. FOREST. Apart from our team (prof. Bogdan Jaroszewicz and Olga Cholewińska), the authors of the publication are Ewa Chećko from the University of Warmia and Mazury (founder of the experiment) and prof. Marta Wrzosek from the Botanical Garden of the University of Warsaw (who inventoried the fungi on the logs). Our results stress that deadwood plays a crucial role in the maintenance of biodiversity in forest ecosystems. We exposed 720 logs of wood (Scots pine, Norway spruce, English oak and European hornbeam) in a full-factorial experiment, set in three types of forests in three spatial arrangements: hanging about 1.3 m above the ground, directly on the ground and approximately 5-10 cm under the ground. We found that the forest type did not influence the taxon richness and had limited influence on the composition of deadwood-dwelling mycobiota. The degree of contact with soil was an important factor, with the taxon richness of the subterranean logs extremely low and their fungal composition being a subset of the species pools of logs lying on the soil surface and those hanging above the ground. The host wood identity was the strongest predictor of taxon richness and composition of macrofungi, with Carpinus betulus wood hosting the highest and conifers hosting the lowest taxon richness of fungi. Our study indicates that host wood identity and degree of log contact with soil are the most important factors determining macrofungal communities in deadwood, overriding the influence of forest type. Taking into account the degree of wood debris contact with soil revealed that the common practice of leaving subterranean wood biomass (stumps and root systems) in logged forests does not have any importance for the diversity of macrofungi.