The biodiversity-ecosystem function relationship is a central topic in ecology. Fungi are the dominant decomposers of organic plant material in terrestrial ecosystems and display tremendous species diversity. However, little is known about the fungal diversity-decomposition relationship. We evaluated fungal community assemblies and substrate quality in different stages of wood decay to assess the relationships between fungal species richness and weight loss of wood substrate under laboratory conditions. Wood-inhabiting fungal communities in the early and late stages of pine log decomposition were used as a model. Colonisation with certain species prior to inoculation with other species resulted in four-fold differences in fungal species richness and up to tenfold differences in the rate of wood substrate decomposition in both early- and late-decaying fungal communities. Differences in wood substrate quality had a significant impact on species richness and weight loss of wood and the relationships between the two, which were negative or neutral. Late communities showed significantly negative species richness-decay relationships in wood at all decay stages, whereas negative relationships in early communities were significant only in the intermediate decay stage. Our results suggest that changes in fungal communities and wood quality during wood decomposition affect the fungal diversity-decomposition relationship.
ASJC Scopus subject areas