Pedobiologia, Volume 71, November 2018,
Ectomycorrhizal (ECM) fungi are crucial in the functioning of most forest ecosystems. Increased understanding of ECM symbiosis has led to numerous advancements in environment protection and forestry. The ECM fungi are a diverse group, both phylogenetically and functionally. Research covering their community structure on distinct sites shows that the presence of certain taxa depends on particular stand traits, such as tree species and age structure. Disturbances to the local habitat, ranging from forest fires to planned management, have also been shown to impact which fungal species are present. This study focuses on the dynamics of changes within the taxonomic and functional structure of the ECM fungal community as a response to host tree (Scots pines (Pinus sylvestris L.)) aging and how this dynamic is affected by forest management. While no explicit difference in ECM fungal species diversity between stands of different age was observed, the present taxa contributing to this diversity varied. Along the pine age gradient, some ECM fungal taxa were gradually being replaced with others. Additionally, a shift in functionality (i.e. exploration type community structure) was observed. In older forests, ECM fungal species of shorter distance exploration types became more prevalent. While forest management via thinning affected this process, the effect was not persistent.