The Conservation Biology of Fungi

Anne Pringle, Dept of Organismic and Evolutionary Biology, Harvard University,16 Divinity Avenue, Cambridge, MA 02138

Global change, habitat loss and the homogenization of Earth’s biota threaten biodiversity. In North America there may be twice as many fungi (at least 37,800 species) as plants (18,400 species) and yet their conservation has attracted little attention (Wilcove and Master 2005). Only 226 fungal species (0.6%) are classified as imperiled or critically imperiled, in contrast, 2917 plant species (16%) are listed as imperiled or critically imperiled (NatureServe 2008). Either fungi are less likely to be endangered than plants, or we are lacking a great deal of information. The objective of this symposium is to explore the nascent field of fungal conservation biology, draw on the expertise of botanists present at the meeting, and continue a dialogue about whether and how fungal species may be threatened.