Species richness and sporocarp density of ectomycorrhizal fungi in stands of Pinus sylvestris (Scots pine) in The Netherlands have decreased during the last decades. The lowest species diversity was found in P. sylvestris stands situated in areas with high atmospheric deposition of nitrogen originating from intensive livestock industry. In these stands, litter and humus have accumulated into thick layers, and the herbaceous understory vegetation is dominated by the grass Deschampsia flexuosa (wavy hair grass). Earlier investigations showed negative correlations between the number of species of ectomycorrhizal fungi above ground and the depth of humus layers. Our aim was to investigate whether removal of lifter, humus layers, and herbaceous vegetation (sods)-so-called "sod cutting"-increased species diversity above ground and sporocarp density of ectomycorrhizal fungi in P. sylvestris stands of different age. Therefore, three P. sylvestris stands of different ages (planted in 1987, 1963, and 1924) on Haplic Arenosol were selected. In 1990, litter, humus layers, and herbaceous vegetation were removed to create nutrient-poor sandy soils without overlying lifter and humus layers. Untreated plots served as controls. Surveys conducted in 1991, 1992, and 1993 indicated that sod cutting enhanced the species diversity and sporocarp density of ectomycorrhizal fungi. These results suggest that sod cutting is a way to restore ectomycorrhizal nora in medium-aged and old stands of P. sylvestris where litter and humus have accumulated.
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