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Response of ectomycorrhizal community structure to gap opening in natural and managed temperate beech-dominated forests

Grebenc, Tine, Christensen, Morten, Vilhar, Urša, Čater, Matjaž, Martín, María P., Simončič, Primož, Kraigher, Hojka
Canadian journal of forest research = 2009 v.39 no.7 pp. 1375-1386
mycorrhizal fungi, community structure, mixed forests, forest canopy, canopy gaps, ectomycorrhizae, species diversity, light intensity, silvicultural practices, forest management, environmental factors, Fagus sylvatica, Abies alba, Slovenia, Denmark
Data on the impact of forest management practices on ectomycorrhizal community structure remains fragmentary and mainly originates from studies in northern coniferous forests. This study focuses on a comparison of ectomycorrhizal communities between canopy gaps and closed canopy areas within natural and managed beech-dominated forests at four locations in Europe. We used high resolution rDNA techniques to identify ectomycorrhiza-forming fungi and attempted to extract potential stand-, gap-, soil-, and selected environmentally derived variables by applying multivariate analysis and ordination for pooling of ecological groups of ectomycorrhiza. A significant reduction of diversity indices, ectomycorrhizal and fine root dynamics, in gaps in comparison with closed canopy stands indicates an effect of forest management practice and the high importance of maintaining and protecting natural forest areas for conservation of soil biodiversity and forest genetic resources. The ordination analysis revealed three groups of ectomycorrhiza correlated with changing environmental conditions. The litter and soil pH, number of beech seedlings, and presence of a gap had a pronounced effect on the ectomycorrhizal community. Combined analysis of ectomycorrhiza and environmental factors using correspondence analysis provided an insight into the ecological preferences of the analysed species and confirmed that environmental factors drive ectomycorrhizal community changes.