Xylobolus subpileatus, a specialized basidiomycete functionally linked to old canopy gaps

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Documenting succession in forest canopy gaps provides insights into the ecological processes governing the temporal dynamics of species within communities. We analyzed the fruiting patterns of a rare but widely distributed saproxylic macromycete, Xylobolus subpileatus, during the ageing of natural canopy gaps in oak forests. In one of the last remaining Quercus ilex L. old-growth forests (on the island of Corsica, western Mediterranean basin), we systematically recorded and conducted molecular analyses of X. subpileatus basidiomes in 80 dated natural canopy gaps representing a 45-year long sequence of residence time of tree logs on the forest floor. Xylobolus subpileatus fruited exclusively on Q. ilex logs. The probability of fruiting of X. subpileatus significantly increases during the process of wood decomposition to reach its maximum in the oldest gaps, approximately 40 years after treefall. In contrast, the abundance and the richness of saprobic and ectomycorrhizal fruitbodies decrease as canopy gaps age. Our results emphasize the high ecological specialization of X. subpileatus. They also highlight the imperative need to conserve the last patches of old-growth Mediterranean forests to secure the persistence of this endangered and functionally unique macromycete whose presence is highly dependent on old wood in advanced stages of decomposition.




Taudiere, A., Bellanger, J. M., Moreau, P. A., Carcaillet, C., Christophe, A., Læssøe, T., … Richard, F. (2017). Xylobolus subpileatus, a specialized basidiomycete functionally linked to old canopy gaps. Canadian Journal of Forest Research, 47(7), 965–973. https://doi.org/10.1139/cjfr-2016-0521

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