The macrofungal diversity and community of Atlantic oak (Quercus petraea and Q. robur) forests in Ireland


  • Richard O’Hanlon Department of Life Sciences, University of Limerick
  • Thomas J. Harrington Department of Life Sciences, University of Limerick



Fungi, ectomycorrhiza, functional groups, decomposer, biogeography


The oak species Quercus petraea and Q. Robur are dominant canopy tree species of native deciduous forests in Ireland and coastal regions of Western Europe. These forests are typically plant species-rich, and can also have a rich fungal flora. This survey examined macrofungi found in five native oak sites across Ireland over three years. Overall, 94 macrofungal species belonging to 39 genera were discovered with Mycena, Lactarius, Russula and Cortinarius the most species-rich genera. The species accumulation curve did not show signs of levelling off, indicating that more sampling would reveal more new species. Species richness estimation using the Chao2 estimator indicated that up to 135 species may be present across all of our plots, with individual plots receiving estimates from 19 to 61 species per plot. Sampled-based rarefaction analysis showed no significant differences in macrofungal species richness between our plots. The five most common species were Laccaria amethystina, L. laccata, Stereum hirsutum, Armillaria mellea and Cortinarius flexipes. Comparisons of the results with results from oak forests in similar regions found that the communities in Great Britain were most similar to those found in Ireland. There were some key oak forest distinguishing fungal species from the family Boletaceae lacking from Irish oak forests. It is hypothesised that the historic deforestation of Ireland, caused a reduction of suitable habitats for Irish oak associated macrofungi, leading to the unspecific mycota found in the oak forests of this study. The threats to Atlantic oak forests in Ireland are briefly discussed.


Download data is not yet available.


Anonymous. 2001. Tercer Inventario Forestal Nacional, 1997-2006. Galicia, A Coruña. Dirección General de Conservación de la Naturaleza, Ministerio de Medio Ambiente. Madrid.

Anonymous. 2007. Anuario de estadística forestal 2007. (08-VIII-2011).

Baarda, P. 2005. Atlantic Oakwoods in Great Britain: Factors Influencing their Definition, Distribution and Occurrence. Botanical Journal of Scotland 57: 1-20.

Bills, G., Holtzman, G. & Miller, O. 1986. Comparison of ectomycorrhizal- basidiomycete communities in red spruce versus northern hardwood forests of West Virginia. Canadian Journal of Botany 64: 760-768.

Boddy, L. 1999. Saprotrophic cord-forming fungi: Meeting the challenge of heterogeneous environments. Mycologia 91(1): 13-32.

Bolger, T., Kenny, J., Harrington, T.J., O’Hanlon, R., Arroyo, J., Anderson, A. & Keithe, A. 2009. The FUNCTIONALBIO project: (15-XI-2011).

Brewer, S., Cheddadi, R., de Beaulieu, J.L., Reille, M. & data contributors. 2002. The spread of deciduous Quercus throughout Europe since the last glacial period. Forest Ecology and Management 156: 27-48.

Brunner, I., Brunner, F. & Laurse, G.A. 1992. Characterization and comparison of macrofungal communities in an Alnus tenuifolia and an Alnus crispa forest in Alaska. Canadian Journal of Botany 70: 1247-1258.

Buee, M., Maurice, J.P., Zeller, B., Andrianarisoa, S., Ranger, J., Courtecuisse, R., Marçais, B. & Le Tacon, F. 2011. Influence of tree species on richness and diversity of epigeous fungal communities in a French temperate forest stand. Fungal Ecology 4: 22-31.

Cole, E.E. & Mitchell, F.J.G. 2003. Human impact on the Irish landscape during the late Holocene inferred from palynological studies at three peatland sites. The Holocene 13: 507-515.

Colwell, R.K. 2004. EstimateS: statistical estimate of species richness and shared species from samples. Version 8.2. (22-XII-2010).

Colwell, R.K., Mao, C.X. & Chang, J. 2004. Interpolating, extrapolating, and comparing incidence-based species accumulation curves. Ecology 85: 2717-2727.

Courtecuisse, R. & Duhem, B. 1995. Mushrooms and Toadstools of Britain and Europe. Harper Collins. London.

Cross, J.R. 1981. The establishment of Rhododendron ponticum in the Killarney oakwoods, SW Ireland. Journal of Ecology 69: 807-824.

Cross, J.R. 2006. The potential natural vegetation of Ireland. Biology and Environment 106B: 65-116.

Dahlberg, A. 2001. Community ecology of ectomycorrhizal fungi: an advancing interdisciplinary field. New Phytologist 150: 555-562.

Dahlberg, A., Jonssen, L. & Nylund, J. 1997. Species diversity and distribution of biomass above and below ground among ectomycorrhizal fungi in an old-growth Norway spruce forest in south Sweden. Canadian Journal of Botany 75: 1323- 1335.

Durall, D.M., Gamiet, S., Simard, S.W., Kudrna, L. & Sakakibara, S.M. 2006. Effects of clearcut logging and tree species composition on the diversity and community composition of epigeous fruitbodies formed by ectomycorrhizal fungi. Cana dian Journal of Botany 84: 966-980.

Ferris, R., Peace, A.J., & Newton, A.C. 2000. Macrofungal communities of low land Scot’s pine and Norway spruce plantations in England: relationships with site factors and stand structure. Forest Ecology and Management 131: 255-267.

Forest Resources Assesment. 2010. Global Forest Resource Assessment 2010 Main report. Food and Agriculture Organisation. Rome.

Fossitt, J.A. 2000. A guide to habitats in Ireland. (03-I-2009).

FRDBI 2009. The Fungal Records Database of Britain and Ireland. (15-XI-2011).

Gabel, A.C. & Gabel, M.L. 2007. Comparison of diversity of macrofungi and vascular plants at seven sites in the Black hills of South Dakota. American Midland Naturalist 157: 258-296.[258:CODOMA]2.0.CO;2

Galán, R., Ortega, A. & Simón, M. 1983. Estudio fenologico de las comunidades de macromycetes que se desarrollan en los encinares de la provincial de Granada. Anales del Jardín Botánico de Madrid 40: 177-196.

Gardener, M.J. & Radford, T. 1980. Soil Associations of Ireland and Their Land Use Potential. An Foras Talúntais. Dublin, Ireland.

Guinea, E. 1954. El subsector cantábrico del N. de España. Anales del Jardín Botánico de Madrid 12: 509-521.

Halling, R.E. 2001. Ectomycorrhizae: Co-Evolution, Significance, and Biogeography. Annals of the Missouri Botanical Garden 88(1): 5-13.

Halling, R.E., Osmundson, T.W. & Neves, M-A. 2008. Pacific boletes: Implications for biogeographic relationships. Mycological Research 112: 437-447.

Heilmann-Clausen, J., Verbeken, A. & Vesterholt, J. 1998. The genus Lactarius. Fungi of Northern Europe 3. Svampetryk. Denmark.

Hering, T. 1966. The terricolous higher fungi of the four Lake District woodlands. Transactions of the British Mycological Society 49: 369-383.

Högberg, P., Nordgren, A., Buchmann, N., Taylor, A.F.S., Ekblad, A., Högberg, M.N., Nyberg, G., Ottosson-Lofvenius, M. & Read, D.J. 2001. Large-scale forest girdling shows that current photosynthesis drives soil respiration. Nature 411: 789-792.

Humphrey, J.W., Ferris, R. & Quine, C. 2003. Biodiversity in Britain’s planted forests. Forestry Commission. Edinburgh.

Iremonger, S., O’Halloran, J., Kelly, D.L., Wilson, M.W., Smith, G.F., Gittings, T., Giller, P.S., Mitchell, F.J.G., Oxbrough, A., Coote, L., French, L., O’Donoghue, S., McKee, A-M., Pithon, J., O’Sullivan, A., Neville, P., O’Donnell, V., Cummins, V., Kelly, T.C. & Dowding, P. 2007. Biodiversity in Irish Plantation Forests. Environmental Protection Agency. Wexford, Ireland.

Ishida, T.A., Nara, K. & Hogetsu, T. 2007. Host effects on ectomycorrhizal fungal communities: insight from eight host species in mixed conifer-broadleaf Forests. New Phytologist 174: 430-440.

Jones, W. 2006. Life and European forests. Office for official publications of the European communities. Luxembourg.

Kelly, D.L. 2002. The regeneration of Quercus petraea (Sessile oak) in southwest Ireland: a 25-year experimental study. Forest Ecology and Management 166: 207-226.

Kelly, D.L. 2005. Woodland on the Western Fringe: Irish Oakwood Diversity and the Challenges of Conservation. Botanical Journal of Scotland 57: 21-40.

Kirk, P., Cannon, P. & Stalpers, J. 2008. Dictionary of the Fungi, 10th ed. CABI. Wallingford, U.K.

Kranabetter, J.M., Friesen, J., Gamiet, S. & Kroeger, P. 2005. Ectomycorrhizal mushroom distribution by stand age in western hemlock lodgepole pine forests of northwestern British Columbia. Canadian Journal of Forest Research 35: 1527-1539.

Krebs, C.J., Carrier, P., Boutin, S., Boonstra, R., & Hofer, E. 2008. Mushroom crops in relation to the weather in southwestern Yukon. Botany 86: 1497-1502.

Legon, N.W. & Henrici, A. 2005. Checklist of the British and Irish Basidiomycota. Royal Botanic Gardens. Kew, U.K.

Lisiewska, M. 1994. Marasmius and allied genera in forest communities of the Białowieża National Park. Acta Mycologia 29: 59-67.

Longino, J.T., Colwell, J. & Coddington, R.K. 2002. The ant fauna of a tropical rainforest: estimating species richness three different ways. Ecology 83: 689-702.[0689:TAFOAT]2.0.CO;2

Losa España, D.M. 1946. Hongos de Galicia. Anales del Jardín Botánico de Madrid 6(1): 417-471.

Losa Quintana, J.M. 1974. Macromicetes del bosque de Quercus robur L. Anales del Jardín Botánico de Madrid 31(1): 185-197.

Malcolm, D., Cochrane, P., Cottrell, J. & Chamberlain, D. 2005. Preface to special issue, Atlantic oakwoods. Botanical Journal of Scotland 57: 1-2.

Mitchell, F.J.G. 2006. Where did Ireland’s trees come from. Biology and Environment 106B: 251-259.

Molina, R.J., Massicotte, H.B., & Trappe, J.M. 1992. Specificity phenomena in mycorrhizal symbioses: Community-ecological consequences and practical implications. In: Allen, M.F. (ed.). Mycorrhizal Functioning, an Integrative Plant-fungal Process. Routledge, Chapman and Hall. New York. pp. 357-423.

Muir, G., Lowe, A.J., Fleming, C.C. & Vogl, C. 2004. High Nuclear Genetic Diversity, High Levels of Outcrossing and Low Differentiation Among Remnant Populations of Quercus petraea at the Margin of its Range in Ireland. Annals of Botany 93: 691-697.

Muskett, A.E. & Malone, J.P. 1978. Catalogue of Irish fungi - I. Gasteromycetes. Proceedings of the Royal Irish Academy B78, 1-11.

Muskett, A.E. & Malone, J.P. 1980. Catalogue of Irish fungi - II. Hymenomycetes. Proceedings of the Royal Irish Academy B80: 197-276.

National Forest Inventory. 2003. National inventory of woodland and trees: Great Britain. The Forestry Commission. Edinburgh.

National Forest Inventory. 2007. National forest inventory of Ireland. (16-II-2009).

Newton, A.C. & Haigh, J. 1998. Diversity of ectomycorrhizal fungi in the UK: a test of the species-area relationship and the role of host preference. New Phytologist 138: 619-627.

O’Hanlon, R. 2011. The diversity of fungi in four Irish forest types. Unpublished PhD dissertation, University of Limerick, Ireland.

O’Hanlon, R. & Harrington, T.J. 2011a. Diversity and distribution of mushroom forming fungi (Agaricomycetes) in Ireland. Biology and Environment 111B2.

O’Hanlon, R. & Harrington, T.J. 2011b. The macrofungal component of biodiversity in Irish Sitka spruce forests. Irish Forestry 68: 40-53.

O’Hanlon, R. & Harrington, T.J. 2012a. Similar taxonomic richness but different communities of ectomycorrhizas in native forests and nonnative plantation forests. Mycorrhiza.

O’Hanlon, R. & Harrington, T.J. 2012b. Macrofungal diversity and ecology in four Irish forest types. Fungal Ecology.

Orton, P.D. 1986. Fungi of northern Pine and Birch woods. Bulletin of the British Mycological Society 20: 130-145.

Outerbridge, R.A. 2002. Macrofungus ecology and diversity under different conifer monocultures on southern Vancouver Island. Unpublished PhD Dissertation, University of Victoria, BC.

Peay, K.G., Bruns, T.D., Kennedy, P.G., Bergemann, S.E. & Garbelotto, M. 2007. A strong species-area relationship for eukaryotic soil microbes: island size matters for ectomycorrhizal fungi. Ecology Letters 10: 470-480.

Perrin, P.M., Mitchell, F.J.G. & Kelly, D.L. 2011. Long-term deer exclusion in yew-wood and oakwood habitats in southwest Ireland: Changes in ground flora and species diversity. Forest Ecology and Management 262: 2328-2337.

Petit, R.J., Brewer, S., Bordacs, S., Burg, K., Cheddadi, C., Coart, E., Cottrell, J., Csaikl, U.M., van Dam, B., Deans, J.D., Espinel, S., Fineschi, S., Fin keldey, R., Glaz, I., Goicoechea, P.G., Jensen, J.S., Konig, A.O., Lowe, A.J., Flemming Madsen, S., Matyas, G., Munro, R.C., Popescu, F., Slade, D., Tabbener, H., de Vries, S.G.M., Ziegenhagen, B., de Beaulieu, J.L. & Kremer, A. 2002. Identification of refugia and post-glacial colonisation routes of European white oaks based on chloroplast DNA and fossil pollen evidence. Forest Ecology and Management 156: 49-74.

Ramsbottom, J. 1936. The Killarney foray: 20-26 September, 1936. Transactions of the British Mycological Society 22: 5-11.

Ruhling, A. & Tyler, G. 1990. Soil factors influencing the distribution of macrofungi in oak forests of sounthern Sweden. Holartic Ecology 13: 11-18.

Sarrionandia, E., Rodriguez, N. & Salcedo, I. 2009. A study of the macrofungal community in the beech forests of Altube (Basque Country, Northern Spain). Cryptogamie Mycologic 30: 67-83.

Straatsma, G., Ayer, F. & Egli, S. 2001. Species richness, abundance and phylogeny of fungal fruit bodies over 21 years in a Swiss forest plot. Mycological Research 105: 512-523.

Taylor, A.F.S. 2002. Fungal diversity in ectomycorrhizal communities: sampling effort and species detection. Plant and Soil 244: 19-28.

Tedersoo, L., Suvi, T., Jairus, T. & Kõljalg, U. 2008. Forest microsite effects on community composition of ectomycorrhizal fungi on seedlings of Picea abies and Betula pendula. Environmental Microbiology 10: 1189-1201.

Toth, B.B. & Barta, Z. 2010. Ecological studies of ectomycorrhizal fungi: an analysis of survey methods. Fungal Diversity 45: 3-19.

Tyler, G. 1992. Tree species affinity of decomposer and ectomycorrhizal macrofungi in beech (Fagus sylvatica L.), oak (Quercus robur L.) and hornbeam (Carpinus betulus L.) forests. Forest Ecology and Management 47: 269-284.

Unterseher, M., Schnittler, M., Dormann, C. & Sickert, A. 2008. Application of species richness estimators for the assessment of fungal diversity. FEMS Microbiology Letters 282: 205-213.

Villeneuve, N., Grandtner, M.M. & Fortin, J.A. 1989. Frequency and diversity of ectomycorrhizal and saprophytic macrofungi in the Laurentide Mountains of Quebec. Canadian Journal of Botany 67: 2616-2629.

Watling, R. 1974. Macrofungi in oak woods in Britain. In: Morris, M.G. & Perring, F.H. (eds.). The British Oak. BSBI. Berkshire, UK. pp. 235-249.

Watling, R. 1984. Macrofungi of birchwoods. Proceedings of the Royal Society of Edinburgh 85B: 129-140.

Watling, R. 1992. The Fungus Flora of Shetland. Royal Botanic Garden. Edinburgh.

Watling, R. 1995. Assessment of fungal diversity: macromycetes, the problems. Canadian Journal of Botany 73: S15-S24.

Watling, R. 2005a. The fungi of Scottish Western oakwoods. Botanical Journal of Scotland 57: 155-165.

Watling, R. 2005b. Fungal conservation: Some impressions- a personal view. In: Dighton, J.P, White, J.F. & Oudemans, P. (eds). The fungal community: its organisation and role in the ecosystem. 3rd edn. Taylor & Francis. Florida. pp. 881-895.

Wilkins, W.H., Ellis, E.M. & Harley, J.L. 1937. The Ecology of the Larger Fungi 1. Constancy and frequency of fungal species in relation to certain vegetation communities, particularly oak and beech. Annals of Applied Biology 24: 703-732.




How to Cite

O’Hanlon, R., & Harrington, T. J. (2012). The macrofungal diversity and community of Atlantic oak (Quercus petraea and Q. robur) forests in Ireland. Anales Del Jardín Botánico De Madrid, 69(1), 107–117.