Investigating the drivers of macro-fungal dark diversity using LiDAR

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Despite the important role of fungi for ecosystems, relatively little is known about the factors underlying the dynamics of their diversity. Moreover, studies do not typically consider their dark diversity: the absent species from an otherwise suitable site. Here, we examined the drivers of local fungal dark diversity in temperate woodland and open habitats using LiDAR and in-situ field measurements, combined with a systematically collected and geographically comprehensive (national) macro-fungi and plant data set. For the first time, we also estimated species pools of fungi by considering both plant and fungi co-occurrences. The most important LiDAR variables were amplitude and echo ratio, which are both thought to represent vegetation structure. These results suggest that the local fungal dark diversity is highest in tall dense forests like plantations and lowest in more open forests and open habitats with little woody vegetation. Plant species richness was the most important driver and negatively correlated with local fungal dark diversity. Soil fertility showed a positive relationship with dark diversity in open habitats. This may indicate that the local dark diversity of macro-fungi is highest in areas with a relatively high human impact (typically areas with low plant species richness and high soil fertility). Overall, this study brings novel insights into local macro-fungi dark diversity patterns, suggesting that a multitude of drivers related to both soil and vegetation act in concert to determine fungal dark diversity. Our results suggest that policymakers and conservation managers should consider plant species richness, soil fertility, and vegetation structure in future management plans for fungal communities.
Original languageEnglish
Publication statusSubmitted - 2020

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