A crucial consideration for adaptation strategies is their functional outcome regarding the ability to sustain key ecosystem processes and species under future climate change and disturbances. For forest systems, this includes maintaining not only habitat elements critical for sustaining forest dependent species, but also key trophic dynamics and processes important to maintaining wildlife populations and overall ecosystem health.
In this article recently published in the Canadian Journal of Forest Research, NE CASC principal investigator Anthony D'Amato and his collaborators examined the response of fungal fruiting bodies, which constitute an important part of the diet of many mammal and invertebrate species, to adaptation strategies designed to sustain northern hardwood forest ecosystems in northern New England. The team found the greatest diversity and abundance of fruiting bodies in unharvested portions of the forest 18 months after treatment, with areas experiencing adaptation harvests displaying greater homogeneity in fungal community composition and lower biomass of fruiting bodies for key taxa, namely ectomycorrhizal fungi. These species represent both an important food source to small mammal communities and are critical to enhancing nutrient acquisition by trees in these ecosystems. As such, the integration of management strategies that sustain these fungal species, such as the retention of large living and dead trees in harvested areas, should be included as part of forest adaptation strategies in these ecosystems.
- Forest adaptation harvests reduced patterns in fungal fruiting 18 months after treatment implementation
- Among functional groups, ectomycorrhizal fungi were most impacted
- Adaptation strategies that include provisions for retaining patches of large living and dead trees, as well as understory vegetation may preserve mycorrhizal communities and soil conditions supporting fungal fruiting