1 Natural History Museum of Denmark, Natural History Museum of Denmark, Faculty of Science, Københavns Universitet2 unknown3 Natural History Museum of Denmark, Natural History Museum of Denmark, Faculty of Science, Københavns Universitet
Intensive forest management creates habitat degradation by reducing the variation of forest stands in general, and by removing old trees and dead wood in particular. Non-intervention forest reserves are commonly believed to be the most efficient tool to counteract the negative effects on biodiversity, but actual knowledge of the conservation efficiency is limited, especially for recent reserves. The structure of ecological communities is often described with measures of nestedness, beta diversity and similarity between communities. We studied whether these measures differ among forest reserves with different management histories. For this purpose, we used a large data set of wood-inhabiting fungi collected from dead beech trees in European beech-dominated forest reserves. The structure of fungal assemblages showed high beta diversity, while nestedness and similarity was low. During the decomposition process of trees beta diversity between the communities occupying different trees increased in natural, but not in previously managed sites. Effects of management and decay process on nestedness were complex. We argue that the detected differences most likely reflect historical effects which have extirpated specialized species from the local species pools in managed sites, and resulted in more homogeneous communities in managed sites. It is alarming that community structure is affected the most in the latest decay stages where the decay process turns the dead wood into litter, and which is thus the interface between the wood decay and the litter-decaying ecosystem. The effects of simplified communities in late decay stages on soil biodiversity should be studied. (C) 2013 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.