Forestry reshapes ecosystems with respect to tree age structure, soil properties and vegetation composition. These changes are likely to be paralleled by shifts in microbial community composition with potential feedbacks on ecosystem functioning. Here, we assessed fungal communities across a chronosequence of managed Pinus sylvestris stands and investigated correlations between taxonomic composition and extracellular enzyme activities. Not surprisingly, clear-cutting had a negative effect on ectomycorrhizal fungal abundance and diversity. In contrast, clear-cutting favoured proliferation of saprotrophic fungi correlated with enzymes involved in holocellulose decomposition. During stand development, the re-establishing ectomycorrhizal fungal community shifted in composition from dominance by Atheliaceae in younger stands to Cortinarius and Russula species in older stands. Late successional ectomycorrhizal taxa correlated with enzymes involved in mobilisation of nutrients from organic matter, indicating intensified nutrient limitation. Our results suggest that maintenance of functional diversity in the ectomycorrhizal fungal community may sustain long-term forest production by retaining a capacity for symbiosis-driven recycling of organic nutrient pools.
Journal: The ISME journal