Are wildfires a threat to fungi in European pinus forests? A case study of Boreal and Mediterranean forests
Franco Manchón, Iván
Oria-de-Rueda, Juan Andrés
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Natural forests and plantations of Pinus are ecologically and economically important worldwide, producing an array of goods and services, including the provision of non-wood forest products. Pinus species play an important role in Mediterranean and boreal forests. Although Pinus species seem to show
an ecological adaptation to recurrent wildfires, a new era of mega fires is predicted, owing to climate changes associated with global warming. As a consequence, fungal communities, which are key players in forest ecosystems, could be strongly affected by these wildfires. The aim of this study was to observe the fungal community dynamics, and particularly the edible fungi, in maritime (Pinus pinaster Ait.), austrian pine (Pinus nigra J.F. Arnold), and scots pine (Pinus sylvestris L.) forests growing under wet Mediterranean, dry Mediterranean, and boreal climatic conditions, respectively, by comparing the mushrooms produced in severely burned Pinus forests in each area. Sporocarps were collected during the main sampling campaigns in non-burned plots, and in burned plots one year and five years after fire. A total of 182 taxa, belonging to 81 genera, were collected from the sampled plots, indicating a high level of fungal diversity in these pine forests, independent of the climatic conditions. The composition of the fungal communities was strongly affected by wildfire. Mycorrhizal taxa were impacted more severely by wildfire than the saprotrophic taxa, particularly in boreal forests—no mycorrhizal taxa were observed in the year following fire in boreal forests. Based on our observations, it seems that fungal communities of boreal P. sylvestris forests are not as adapted to high-intensity fires as the Mediterranean fungal communities of P. nigra and P. pinaster forests. This will have an impact on reducing fungal diversity and potential incomes in rural economically depressed areas that depend on income from foraged edible fungi, one of the most important non-wood forest products.