Rarity and Threat

 

Threat assessment

 

A complete assessment of lichenised and lichenicolous fungi was published by the British Lichen Society in 2003.  This is regularly reviewed.  A summary of the threat and rarity statuses that apply can be downloaded from the Species Designation pages.  A total of 1850 taxa were considered in the evaluation:

 
 
 
   No. of taxa   % of taxa
Extinct (EX)
Critically Endangered (CR)
Endangered (EN)
Vulnerable (VU) 
Data Deficient (DD)
Near Threatened (NT)
Least Concern (LC)
Not Evaluated (NE) 
Nationally Rare (NR)
Nationally Scarce (NS)
Endemic to Britain and Ireland         
International Responsibility
 
32
40
30
106
226
205
1117
79
646
525
43
180
1.7
2.2
1.6
5.7
12.2
11.1
60.4
4.3
34.9
28.4
2.3
9.7
 
 
For other fungi, only a preliminary assessment exists, which can be found on the British Mycological Society website.  Development of a complete Red List has been particularly problematic.  The preliminary assessment, in most cases, attempts to apply IUCN criteria to occurrences of fruiting bodies.  However, the relationship between rarity of fruiting bodies and the rarity of the species is generally unknown.  Furthermore, the ephemeral nature and extreme fluctuations in the appearance of many fruiting bodies, makes the assessment of rarity and decline particularly complex.  By basing an assessment on fruiting bodies, the work tends to focus on rarity of fruiting rather than rarity per se or on decline.  However, this is a good first step towards discovering those species which are truly rare. 
 
We may never know what has been lost for fungi during the well-documented losses of other taxonomic groups since World War II.  We can assume that there have been similar dramatic declines of e.g. fungi of neutral grasslands.  Knowledge of these declines might provide a different nuance to our understanding of environmental change, and the fungal declines may now be preventing effective re-establishment of particular ecosystems.  Further research needs to focus on the fungal communities of Priority Habitats, and identifying whether there are distinct fungal communities within these.  It is also important to identify those habitats that contain internationally important groups of fungi (such as waxcaps).  New molecular approaches may assist in understanding these fungal communities, and also in resolving some of the difficulties that currently prevent confidence in conservation measures.