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 Fomitopsis mounceae

FunDiS Conservation Working Group

Fungi are important, endangered and in need of protection

Fungi are among the most diverse and ecologically significant organisms on the earth, and in turn enable plant and animal diversity. They play an essential role in many habitats, forming beneficial relationships with countless trees and other plants and many animals - relationships that support much of life on Earth. Fungal diversity often far exceeds that of the tree species. Did you know that over 40 ectomycorrhizal species can live in partnership with a single pine tree? They are also important decomposers and recyclers, turning dead matter into nutritious substrates from which new life can grow.
 

The bad news is that fungi  everywhere are decreasing in quantity and diversity, are under threat or going extinct. Whether they live in old growth forest, grasslands or deserts their habitats are being encroached on by development, logging, fires and climate change, attacked by nitrogen deposition and pollution. And that’s bad news for the countless trees, plants, insects and other animals that depend directly or indirectly on the fungi in their ecosystem.
 

Like so many other organisms, fungi and their habitats need to be protected - because habitat health and fungal health are inextricably interwoven. But unlike plants or animals, fungi rarely get considered in conservation plans. They lack legal protection. At best, they’re an  afterthought: of the 120,000 species that have been assessed for the IUCN Red List of threatened species only 371 are mushrooms - the rest are plants and animals. And not a single mushroom  species is  protected under the Endangered Species Act in the United States.

Why is that? Unlike plants or animals many species of fungi often only fruit for a few days a year; their fruiting bodies appear and disappear quickly.  At first glance, their diversity is not visible. They’re often inconspicuous and few people look for them and record them. And without a public record of their existence, they remain neglected, under-researched, misunderstood and unprotected. 

 

How you can help

Participate in our West Coast Rare 10 Challenge!

Help us find and document 10 rare, under-documented and potentially threatened fungi on the West Coast. Scientists and conservationists need more data on these fungi in order to better understand and protect them. Your high quality observations can make a difference. This is a pilot for more watchlist challenges in other parts of North America. Watch this space!

Contribute high quality observations of fungi to our Diversity Database on iNaturalist

By creating high quality observations of fungi -  especially of fungi in vulnerable, out of the way and threatened habitats - you’re adding valuable knowledge about their distribution and frequency. This in turn can guide research and conservation plans for their habitats. We can only protect what we know about! Find out more here.

 

Conservation working group members

Sigrid Jakob, Conservation Coordinator & FunDiS

Anne Frances, NatureServe

Django Grootmyers

Greg Mueller, Chicago Botanic Garden; Global Fungal Red List Initiative

Bitty Roy, University of Oregon & FunDiS

Joanne Schwartz, Fungal Diversity Survey

Bill Sheehan, Fungal Diversity Survey

Rob Stevenson, University of Massachusetts Boston & FunDiS

Roo Vandegrift, University of Oregon

Rick Van de Poll, Ecosystem Management Consultants

Else Vellinga, University of California, Berkeley

 

About Fungal Diversity Survey

FunDiS is dedicated to a world in which the fungal kingdom is fully documented, understood, appreciated and protected.

About Fungal Diversity Survey

FunDiS is dedicated to a world in which the fungal kingdom is fully documented, understood, appreciated and protected.