Lost and Found Fungi project - Statistics

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The Lost and Found Fungi project record statistics

Compiled by Dr. Brian Douglas and Dr. Oliver Ellingham, February 2019


This webpage provides some details of the progress of the Lost and Found Fungi (LAFF) project since the start of the project in July 2014, including statistics on record trends; species still not found during the LAFF project; and other outputs made within the project remit.

A major aim of the LAFF project is to produce a robust distribution and abundance dataset for LAFF target species to underpin conservation assessments and potential actions. To do this, we have compiled and curated a baseline dataset and distribution map derived from multiple database sources. These include the Fungal Records Database of Britain and Ireland (version one and version two); Kew's Herbtrack database (of vouchers held in the Kew Fungarium);  Mycologia Scotica (updated by Roy Watling); and various literature and other records (including the National Biodiversity Network (NBN) and the Global Biodiversity Information Facility (GBIF)). This dataset has then been enlarged by incorporating records submitted by volunteers and contributors throughout Britain and Ireland, most of which were made during the LAFF project period of July 2014 to the present.

The LAFF dataset (excluding sensitive species) is linked from the project homepage, available in a Creative Commons BY-SA-NC 3.0 license.

This dataset, and any outputs derived from it, are the result of the hard work, knowledge, and enthusiasm of a very large number of people prior to the LAFF project, and to all who have submitted records during the project. We believe it comprises the best currently available dataset for these fungi in the UK, and it is supported by voucher specimens and photographs where possible and appropriate. The dataset will be fundamental to making robust conservation assessments of these fungi during the LAFF project and in the future.

Enormous thanks are due to everyone who has submitted data and specimens to the LAFF project! Any success the project has seen is a result of your contributions and hard work.

How have number of records and sites changed during the LAFF project?

Records made within the LAFF project currently total over 1500, comprising a significant proportion of records (34%) and sites (38%, as estimated by 1 km squares) since 1965 (Fig. 4-5). Most of these records are detailed on the LAFF online database, while some (Hericium spp., Puccinia scorzonerae, and confidential records) are stored in offline datasets at Kew.

The majority of new records for LAFF target species (around 81%) were made from new sites (1 km squares) for species in this dataset. The larger relative increase in number of sites compared to records during the LAFF project (Fig. 4-5) is due to a larger proportion of multiple records per site in the 1965-June 2014 dataset (average 2.50 records per site) compared to sites visited during LAFF (average 2.01 records per site) (data not shown). Older (pre-1965) records of LAFF target species are under-represented in the sites (as 1 km squares) analysis (Fig. 5) due to the difficulties of assigning 1 km squares to poorly localised records.

Fig. 4: LAFF records – Potentially Lost (pre-1965), Presumed Present (1965-July 2014), and New (July 2014-Present). Fig. 5: LAFF “sites” (as 1 km squares) – Potentially Lost (pre-1965), Presumed Present (1965-July 2014), and New (July 2014-Present).

How many species have been found, and which have seen the greatest rise in known population size?

A current total of 77 species (including 12 lichens and lichenicolous species) have been found during the LAFF project, including recently segregated or currently confused taxa, and Xenotypa aterrima, the host of Rutstroemia (=Dencoeliopsis) johnstonii. Considerable increases in the number of records (Fig. 6-7), and number of sites surveyed (as estimated by 1 km squares) (Fig. 8-9), have been made for many species during the LAFF project. Click on the graphs to see in full detail.

Fig. 6: LAFF records per species – Potentially Lost (pre-1965), Presumed Present (1965-July 2014), and New (July 2014-Present). Fig. 7: Relative proportions of LAFF records per species, compared to the previous 50 years. Fig. 8: LAFF “sites” (as 1 km squares) per species – Potentially Lost (pre-1965), Presumed Present (1965-July 2014), and New (July 2014-Present). Fig. 9: Relative proportions of LAFF "sites" (as 1 km squares) compared to the previous 50 years.

Extant records (since 1965) for 41 target species have at least doubled during the LAFF project (Table 1). For some species this doubling has involved the discovery of only one or a few new sites (e.g. Encoelia carpiniBovista paludosa), while in others it has involved moderate to profound changes in knowledge of the UK population of these species (e.g. Mollisia fuscoparaphysataPuccinia cladii).

Table 1: LAFF target species with 50% of extant records during LAFF
Anthostomella alchemillae Gyalidea roseola Puccinia scorzonerae
Anthracoidea limosa Hypocreopsis lichenoides Pucciniastrum goodyerae
Anthracoidea pulicaris Hypoxylon fuscoides Rutstroemia johnstonii
Armillaria ectypa Lasiobotrys lonicerae Sarcodon joeides
Artomyces pyxidatus Lichenochora epifulgens Siphula ceratites
Bovista paludosa Lobothallia melanaspis Sporomega degenerans
Cryptomyces maximus Mollisia fuscoparaphysata Thyronectria roseovirens
Encoelia carpini Paxillus cuprinus Urocystis primulicola
Entoloma atromadidum Perenniporia ochroleuca Ustanciosporium gigantosporum
Entoloma madidum Phaeosphaeria silenes-acaulis Ustanciosporium majus
Exobasidium pachysporum Polystigma rubrum Vankya ornithogali
Favolaschia calocera Postia guttulata Volvariella aethiops
Geastrum marginatum Puccinia cicutae Xenotypa aterrima
Gliophorus reginae Puccinia cladii Xylaria crozonensis

Priority species for the purposes of conservation of biodiversity in the UK

Thirty-three LAFF target species are listed in at least one national legislative priority list for the purposes of conservation of biodiversity within the United Kingdom, in a few cases by the name of their now segregated parent taxon (e.g. Entoloma bloxamii s.l., Hohenbuehelia culmicola s.l.).

Substantial increases in the number of records and known sites for these taxa have been made during the project (Fig. 6. above, and Figs. 10-11 below). Records made during LAFF represent about a third (34%) of known and extant sites for these species, with over 123 records being made from newly discovered 1 km squares within this dataset.

Fig. 10: Priority LAFF species “sites” (as 1 km squares) – Potentially Lost (pre-1965), Presumed Present (1965-July 2014), and New (July 2014-Present). Fig. 11: Relative proportions of LAFF "sites" (as 1 km squares) of GB&I priority species from the LAFF project compared to the previous 50 years.

Which species are yet to be found during the LAFF project?

Twenty-nine LAFF target species are yet to be rediscovered during the project (Table 2).

Taxonomic and distribution reassessment works have been undertaken on four of these species (Amanita friabilisHohenbuehelia boniiH. culmicola, and Chromosera citrinopallida). Thorough but unsuccessful surveys have been undertaken for three species (Amanita friabilisHelvella monachella [=leucopus], and Dacampia rhizocarpicola).

Table 2: LAFF target species not yet recorded during the project
Amanita friabilis Gyalolechia bracteata Nephroma arcticum
Biscogniauxia marginata Helvella leucopus Peltigera lepidophora
Boletus fechtneri Hohenbuehelia bonii Peltigera scabrosa
Caloplaca haematites Hohenbuehelia culmicola Porina sudetica
Catolechia wahlenbergii Hygrocybe marchii sensu Boertmann (1995) Stigmatula astragali
Chromosera citrinopallida Hygrocybe roseascens Umbilicaria spodochroa
Dacampia rhizocarpicola Lecania coeruleorubella Usnea subscabrosa
Entoloma sp. aff. bloxamii Eaves Wood Lecania coerulescens Xerocomus silwoodensis
Exobasidium expansum Lecidea inops  
Gliophorus europerplexus Melanelixia subargentifera  

Which species have been rediscovered after recording gaps of over 50 years?

Two LAFF target species, and two additional taxa, have been rediscovered and confirmed after a recording gap of over 50 years (Table 3).

Table 3: "Lazarus" species confirmed after 50+ year recording gap
Sporomega degenerans (last seen 1907 pre-LAFF, found as a possible candidate in 2014 at the start of the LAFF project, confirmed at multiple sites 2015-2018) Ustanciosporium gigantosporum (last seen 1865 pre-LAFF, refound and morphologically confirmed in 2015, although a different ITS phylotype to the single other ITS barcoded specimen under this name in GenBank, and requiring further work)
Ustanciosporium majus (last confirmed 1959, recorded 2013 as Ustanciosporium sp., confirmed and recollected elsewhere during LAFF) Godronia fuliginosa (last recorded 1956, rediscovered 2018 during surveys for Cryptomyces maximus

Lichens and lichenicolous fungi

Lichens and lichenicolous fungi have been treated somewhat differently to non-lichenised target species during the LAFF project. This is partly because these taxon groups are generally recorded by a different subsection of the recording community (i.e. British Lichen Society members); and because most British lichens have already been red-list assessed (see here).  The lichenised and lichenicolous LAFF targets are also in most cases restricted to small populations in known geographically isolated locations with very low levels of air pollution. These populations therefore require dedicated surveying and monitoring activity by experienced lichenologists, some of which has been facilitated as part of the LAFF project.

Twelve LAFF lichens and lichenicolous species have been recorded during the LAFF project, totalling over 120 records from 41 monads (23 new), and comprising over 39% of records since 1965 and 32% of monads for these species. As with the non-lichenised fungi dataset, 51 older records could not be assigned a monad, and so the increase of known sites will be somewhat less than 32%.

Twelve lichens and lichenicolous species have not yet been recorded within the LAFF project timeline. Of these, Dacampia rhizocarpicola, Porina sudetica, Umbilicaria spodochroa, and Usnea subscabrosa have been unsuccessfully searched for at known sites.

Other outputs

Two taxonomic articles have been produced on LAFF target species. The first involves the recognition that Hohenbuehelia culmicola is two species (H. culmicola s.s. and H. bonii); while the second describes how the big blue pinkgill Entoloma bloxamii comprises five distinct taxa in the UK (Table 4). The LAFF project has also been privileged to be able to help encourage and support two articles on LAFF target species and others of equal conservation concern (Table 5).

Table 4. Publications associated with the Lost and Found Fungi project

Ainsworth, A. M., Douglas, B., & Suz, L. M. (2018). Big Blue Pinkgills formerly known as Entoloma bloxamii in Britain: E. bloxamii s. str., E. madidum, E. ochreoprunuloides forma hyacinthinum and E. atromadidum sp. nov. Field Mycology, 19(1), 5-14.

Ainsworth, A. M., Suz, L. M., & Dentinger, B. T. (2016). Hohenbuehelia bonii sp. nov. and H. culmicola: two pearls within the Marram Oyster. Field Mycology, 17(3), 78-86.

Table 5. Publications assisted by the Lost and Found Fungi project

Taylor, S., & Smith, P. A. (2017). Having a LAFF with Anthracoidea. Field Mycology, 18(1), 5-13.

Harries, D.J., Hodges, J.E., Theobald, T. (2018). A study of the distribution of Microglossum species in Wales. NRW Evidence Report No: 255, 19 pp, Natural Resources Wales, Cardiff.

Scratchpads developed and conceived by (alphabetical): Ed Baker, Katherine Bouton Alice Heaton Dimitris Koureas, Laurence Livermore, Dave Roberts, Simon Rycroft, Ben Scott, Vince Smith