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Role of leaf litter in above ground wood decay

Image demonstrating the effects of leaf litter on decay of wood. Note that void space surrounding block is filled with leaf litter which led to accelerated decay due to elevated moisture and more exposure to active fungal inoculum.
FPL researchers in Wood Durability and Protection investigate the contributions of leaf litter accumulation to the decay of wood in above ground exposure.
 
Fiscal Year
2020
Research Station
Research Unit(s)
Durability and Wood Protection Research
State(s)
Wisconsin
The effects of leaf litter accumulation are often a secondary consideration in above ground wood construction but can have severe detrimental impacts if not properly managed. The goal of this research was to study the contributions of leaf litter accumulation to wood decay and to characterize the fungal communities in wood exposed to leaf litter versus unexposed. Wooden samples were evaluated over 41 months to compare severity of decay in blocks exposed to young and aged leaf litter compared to unexposed controls. Also, amplicon-based sequencing was performed to compare fungal communities at two time points within the study. Results showed that contact with leaf litter led to accelerated decay and higher average moisture contents. Contact with leaf litter also contributes a significant amount of decay fungal inoculum as evidenced by DNA sequencing of wood and surrounding leaf litter. The results of this study highlight the importance of leaf litter to fungal colonization and subsequent decay hazard for wood in above ground exposure.
Publications
Forest Service Partners
  • None
External Partners
  • Oregon State University
https://www.fs.usda.gov/research/news/highlights/role-leaf-litter-above-ground-wood-decay