Does Nature Know Best?

Larry Stamm larryst at
Sat Jan 10 12:05:25 EST 1998

On Sun, 04 Jan 1998 13:52:20 -0600, Don Staples <dstaples at> wrote:

>dwheeler at wrote:

>> Many mycorrhizal fungi are dispersed by animal vectors (See Key to Spores
>> of the Genera of Hypogeous Fungi of North temperate Forests with special
>> reference to animal mycophagy by Michael A. Castellano, James M. Trappe,
>> Zane Maser & Chris Maser, c 1989, Mad River Press, Eureka, CA 95501). How
>> are forestry or tree farms providing for these animals in habitat and/or
>> foot requirements?
>Same as above, soil fungi are there, in the soil, from adjaceant or
>previous stands.  We take no effort to sterilize the soil prior to
>planting. And, I seem to remember, most mycorrhizal fungi are air
>> This necessary fungal/plant relationship has been a requirement for
>> growing almost all plants since the Devonian (Age of Fishes) time 400
>> million years ago. That foresters in general disregard mycorrhizae as
>> +beneath them+ is as dramatic a statement as saying they can't see the
>> forests for the trees. According to The Primary Source, trees make up
>> 30-35% of biomass of either forest or plantation. Fungi make up 52-55%.
>> Ignoring fungi in tree cultivation/forestry is similar to corn-stalks
>> while growing corn: at this time, you can't have one without the other.
>And what source so readily treated each new seedling with fungi since
>the Devonian?  Agreed, you cant have one with out the other, but reverse
>it and see if it is still true.  Can you have fungi without trees? 
>Works for me.  

I have recently seen research reports from Scandanavia that reported a drastic
decrease in the soil fungi species present under spruce and pine stands that
have been repeatedly harvested under a clearcut regime, as compared with the
number of fungi species found stands that have not been managed for timber
production.  What the cause of this decrease is remains undecided, and  also any
effects on timber growth. 

Similarly, here in BC, drastic decreases in the number and species of fungi have
been found in the years following clearcut harvests in sub-boreal spruce/pine.
This is not entirely suprising considering the change in soil micro-climate
following clearcutting; whether the fungi come back as the regrowth canopy
closes up again is not known.

But foresters might have to start giving attention to the growth of mycorrhizae
under the trees, just like farmers have to attend to the soil microbes to ensure
a healthy crop.  I think the study of mycorrhizae as they relate to forest
health will be one of the most exciting and productive areas of forestry
research in the coming years.
Larry Stamm
PO Box 561
McBride, BC V0J 2E0
email: larryst at

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