Short-term effects of prescribed burning on wood-rotting fungi.
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.
Published in 1996