This confirms what I feared was teh case when I was researching extinct species and found zero entries for fungi in the Red List: we have so little recorded knowledge of fungi (and really, so little understanding, period, as the rest of the linked article explains in some detail – it’s really fascinating, too!) that we can barely begin to know when they’re gone forever.
I suppose in some regards it is not surprising – many fungi are only seen when they send up fruiting bodies, while the majority of the organism exists in the soil (and soil ecology is another whole realm we just barely know anything about), so despite how important they are to the plants they connect with, often symbiotically, and thus their ecosystems as a whole, we really don’t know them. (And what you don’t know, you can’t love, and can’t find worth protecting.)
From Mushroom Expert:
“We must accumulate specimens–and it is time to consider our mushrooms from an ecological perspective. I have been framing my argument, so far, in terms of the pursuit of the advancement of scientific knowledge–but I will close by framing it in other terms: our planet’s biodiversity crisis. Korf writes:
An oft-quoted estimate for fungi is that we have described only 4 to 5% of the world’s species, leaving 95% or more yet to be recorded. The loss of habitats is proceeding so swiftly that the problem is critical. Unless these habitats are sampled now we will have lost forever our chance to document the world’s living biodiversity, to save that in museum specimens and, in the case of fungi, often in culture collections.
Even the fungi from well-studied areas are subject to habitat loss and potential extinction. Many of Smith’s mushroom collections, for example–including type collections for…
View original post 106 more words