Fallen wood is often already colonized or even well decayed by the time it arrives on the forest floor (e.g. Boddy and Swift, 1983; Harmon et al., 1986). This is especially the case for branches falling due to natural pruning and for old trees dying gradually in natural forests. Following arrival on the forest floor established fungal communities are faced with a swift change in microclimatic conditions, and with competition from fungi with well-established mycelia in the forest floor, and from combative fungi, arriving as spores, that were not tolerant of the microclimate of the aerial environment. Unfortunately, to date, there have been no studies documenting the changes in communities that developed while wood was attached to a standing tree once the wood has fallen to the floor.
Wood lacking a well-established decay community does sometimes reach the floor, e.g. younger trees toppling over or tree tops breaking from larger trees in heavy storms. Community development in these situations is likely to be similar to that in felled logs (below).
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