Stand-replacing wildfires alter the community structure of wood-inhabiting fungi in southwestern ponderosa pine forests of the USA

Valerie J. Kurth, Nicholas Fransioli, Peter Z Fule, Stephen C. Hart, Catherine A Gehring

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

9 Scopus citations


Increases in stand-replacing wildfires in the western USA have widespread implications for ecosystem carbon (C) cycling, in part because the decomposition of trees killed by fire can be a long-term source of CO2 to the atmosphere. Knowledge of the composition and function of decay fungi communities may be important to understanding how wildfire alters C cycles. We assessed the effects of stand-replacing wildfires on the community structure of wood-inhabiting fungi along a 32-yr wildfire chronosequence. Fire was associated with low species richness for up to 4 yr and altered species composition relative to unburned forest for the length of the chronosequence. A laboratory incubation demonstrated that species varied in their capacity to decompose wood; Hypocrea lixii, an indicator of the most recent burn, caused the lowest decomposition rate. Our results show that stand-replacing wildfires have long-term effects on fungal communities, which may have consequences for wood decomposition and C cycling.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)192-204
Number of pages13
JournalFungal Ecology
Issue number3
StatePublished - Jun 2013



  • C cycling
  • Fungal diversity
  • Fungal species richness
  • ITS1F-ITS4
  • Molecular methods
  • Mycelial isolation
  • Wood decomposition

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Plant Science
  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics
  • Ecological Modeling
  • Ecology

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