Fungi decaying the wood of fallen beech (Nothofagus) trees in the South Island of New Zealand.
To extend present knowledge of communities of wood decay fungi in native forests, basidiomycetes and ascomycetes were isolated from within 15 fallen stems in beech (Nothofagus, Nothofagaceae) forests in the South Island of New Zealand. Fungal species were identified as precisely as possible using traditional culturing and molecular approaches. The internal distribution of species within stems was determined. Common fungi that occupied significant portions of stems were Ganoderma applanatum sensu Wakefield, Australoporus tasmanicus, Inonotus nothofagi, Pleurotus purpureo-olivaceus, and an unidentified hymenochaetaceous species. Richness and diversity of basidiomycete species were greater in stems of red beech (Nothofagus fusca (Hook. f.) Oerst.) and silver beech (Nothofagus menziesii (Hook. f.) Oerst.) than in those of matai (Prumnopitys taxifolia (Banks & Sol. ex D. Don) de Laub.; Podocarpaceae) and tawa (Beilschmiedia tawa (A. Cunn.) Kirk; Lauraceae), as determined from earlier studies in podocarp hardwood and beech indigenous forests. There was greater similarity in the species composition of basidiomycete fungi colonising the three beech species compared with those colonising rimu (Dacrydium cupressinum Sol. ex Lamb.; Podocarpaceae), tawa, and matai. Based on observations in this study and on international research on the effects of selective logging on basidiomycete biodiversity, the decision to restrict to 50% the extraction of wood following storm damage in beech forests on the West Coast of the South Island appears to have been appropriate.