Australian fungi included on IUCN Red List of Threatened Species

Tom May, Royal Botanic Gardens Victoria

Entoloma ravinense has been assessed as Endangered due to its restricted distribution and habitat. It is known only from a few sites on Kangaroo Island, where it occurs on the shed bark of Eucalyptus cladocalyx. Image: David Catcheside, copyright, used with permission.

Earlier this month, 51 species of fungi were formally added to the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species, as a result of assessments carried out at the Australasian Fungi Red List Workshop held in Melbourne in July.

This is a significant increase in the number of species assessed for the region taking the total species in the Red List that occur in Oceania to 71.

You can see information on each species on the IUCN Red List website.

Using the advanced search option, you can choose Taxonomy =Fungi and Land regions =Oceania, to show the list of all species that occur in the region that have been assessed to date.

Note that some fungi additional to those assessed in the Workshop are also included. These are mostly widespread fungi with Least Concern assessments such as Agaricus campestris (that have been assessed over their whole range) and a few species of lichenised fungi and three non-lichenised fungi added several years ago (Claustula fischeri, Boletopsis nothofagi and Lactarius novae-zelandiae, the first from Australia and New Zealand, and the other two from New Zealand).

As well as viewing assessments on line, you can download each assessment as a pdf (with a doi – so they are citable documents).

In the assessment of each species there is documentation of geographic range, habitat & ecology, population trends and threats, and an overall justification of the assessed category. Categories included Critically Endangered, Endangered, Vulnerable, Near Threatened and Least Concern, and some species have been assessed as Data Deficient. The criteria met in order to match a particular threat category are also provided: these are the letters and numbers after the category. For example, Hygrocybe boothii is assessed as Endangered under categories B1ab(iii,v) and D.

Antrelloides atroceracea is a rare species, known from only a few sites in Western Australia and South Australia, where it is found on sandy lateritic soils in areas that are periodically inundated. It has been assessed as Vulnerable. Image: David Catcheside, copyright, used with permission.

The three Critically Endangered species in Oceania are: Podoserpula miranda  from New Caledonia, Hypocreopsis ameplectens  from Australia and New Zealand, and Deconica baylisiana from New Zealand.

In total for the region, there are now three fungi listed as Critically Endangered, 15 as Endangered and 9 as Vulnerable.

Species that occur in Australia that are listed as Critically Endangered (CR), Endangered (E) or Vulnerable (V) are:

CR – Hypocreopsis ameplectens

EN – Auriscalpium sp. “Blackwood”, Entoloma ravinense, Heimioporus australis and Hygrocybe boothii

VU – Amanita elongatospora, Antrelloides atroceracea, Austroboletus viscidoviridis, Bondarzewia retipora, Cyttaria septentrionalis, Macrolepiota eucharis and Sarcodon sp. “Wombat”

Data from the Fungimap record database was often used in the course of making the assessments. The first step for each assessment was to work out where the species occurs, and what are the habitat requirements. In time, Fungimap data will also be able to be used to track declines or improvements in populations of endangered fungi. In particular, the Lost Fungi project is already collecting rich data on individual endangered species, including Hypocreopsis amplectens.

As a follow up from the listing, some suggested next steps are:

(1) Any species formally assessed at a global level at a given threat category is highly likely to be at least as threatened at a national or regional (state) level. Therefore, it would be ideal to present species for nomination under relevant legislation in your particular region, if not already listed.

(2) Make sure local conservation agencies and land managers are aware of all the red-listed species, so that they can be included in management plans.

(3) Some species have been listed under temporary “tag” names – these should be shortlisted for taxonomic effort to create formal descriptions.

Looking ahead – in 2020 the Australasian Mycological Society will be holding its Scientific Meeting in Hobart in July (10-11). The AMS Fungi Conservation Group will be organising another Red List Workshop before or after the 2020 AMS meeting in Hobart.