Wild Species 2015: fungi kingdom

Fungi Kingdom

Selected macrofungi

Photo of a mushroom, Fly Amanita in the forest litter
Photo: Fly Amanita ( Amanita muscaria) © Rémi Hébert

Selected macrofungi refer to the genus Amanita, the family Nidulariaceae, and the family Phallaceae. In general, fungi are more closely related to animals than they are to plants. They cannot photosynthesize, so must obtain food by either associating with plants or parasitizing other organisms. The bulk of a fungus consists of threadlike hyphae (or mycelia, when many join together) that grow in soil or organic material. Complimentary mycelia fuse and produce a fruiting body, e.g. a mushroom, which in macrofungi is visible to the naked eye. These make spores which disperse to germinate and form new mycelia. The ecological and social importance of fungi cannot be overstated. Mycorrhizal associations, in which fungi provide water and nutrients to plants and receive sugars in return, benefit most plants in Canada (and the world), including the majority of economically important species. Most large mushrooms seen on the forest floor are involved in mycorrhizal associations. Our environment also depends on fungal decomposition of organic matter, which releases nutrients. The genus Amanita includes some of the most toxic known mushrooms found worldwide. However, other edible wild mushrooms are a multi-million dollar industry in Canada. Fungal research in Canada has focused on pathogens, mycorrhizae and decomposing fungi. Currently, genetic tools are being used to clarify their taxonomy and distribution. The largest threat to macrofungi is habitat destruction.

There are 87 known species of selected macrofungi in Canada (Figure 4). Many species are apparently secure or secure (26%). There are no species known as may be at risk at the national level. There are no exotic species known at the national level. We do not have enough knowledge on 64 species to give them a rank other than NU or NNR. No species of selected macrofungi are considered migratory.

Figure 4. General status of selected macrofungi in Canada in 2015.
Bar graph (see long description below)
Long description for figure 4

Figure 4 shows the general status of selected macrofungi in Canada in 2015. The bar graph shows the number of macrofungi species ranked presumed extirpated, possibly extirpated, critically imperiled, imperiled, vulnerable, apparently secure, secure, unrankable, unranked and not applicable in Canada, each province and territory and the 4 oceanic regions. Of the 87 species occurring in Canada, 18 were ranked as Apparently Secure, 5 as Secure, 51 as Unrankable, and 13 as Unranked. All 4 species occurring in Yukon were ranked as Unrankable. All 8 species occurring in Northwest Territories were ranked as Unrankable. Only 1 species was occurring in Nunavut and was ranked as Unrankable. Of the 41 species occurring in British Columbia, 11 were ranked as Apparently Secure, 28 as Unranked and 2 as Not Applicable. Of the 20 species occurring in Alberta, 5 were ranked as Apparently Secure and 15 as Unrankable. All 7 species occurring in Saskatchewan were ranked as Unrankable. All 16 species occurring in Manitoba were ranked as Unrankable. Of the 47 species occurring in Ontario, 2 were ranked as Vulnerable, 14 as Apparently Secured and 31 as Unrankable. All 58 species occurring in Quebec were ranked as Unranked. All 31 species occurring in New Brunswick were ranked as Unrankable. All 45 species occurring in Nova Scotia were ranked as Unrankable. All 4 species occurring in Prince Edward Island were ranked as Unrankable. Of the 12 species occurring in Labrador, 3 were ranked as Imperiled and 9 as Unrankable. Of the 12 species occurring in Newfoundland, 1 was ranked as Critically Imperiled, 1 as Vulnerable, 4 as Apparently Secured and 6 as Unrankable. There were no species listed as occurring in the oceanic regions.

Macrolichens

Photo of a lichen
Photo: Letharia columbiana © Doug Waylett

Macrolichens do not refer to a specific taxonomic division. They are fungi that have established a relationship with an alga or cyanobacterium, wherein the fungus provides a physical structure and its partner provides carbohydrates obtained through photosynthesis. The fungus appears to contain all the genetic information it needs to create the characteristic form of the lichen, but requires the alga or cyanobacterium to “turn on” the lichenization genes. They grow on rocks, trees and soil, and do not appear to damage or even extract much moisture or nutrition from their substrate. Macrolichens can be leafy (foliose), branched (fruticose) or scale-like (squamulose). They usually reproduce asexually by producing specialized tissue fragments that disperse and grow into genetically identical copies of the parent. Lacking roots, transport vessels, or a cuticle to retain water, lichens absorb everything from the environment, including moisture, nutrients and toxins. In dry conditions, photosynthesis stops and respiration slows significantly. Dry lichen can quickly absorb from 3 to 35 times its weight in water, from dew, fog, humid air. Lichens are slow-growing and are particularly sensitive to air pollution, making them valuable environmental indicators. Their sensitivity to pollutants has received considerable study, but many parts of Canada still lack collection and distribution data. Threats include habitat loss and alteration and air pollution.

There are 857 known species of macrolichens in Canada (Figure 5). The majority of these species are apparently secure or secure (56%). There are 11 species that are possibly extirpated, 70 species that are critically imperiled, and 51 species that are imperiled. Of these 132 species, 77 have only a small part of their range in Canada (10% or less) and 44 are intermediary (from 11% to 74%). However, 11 species have 75% or more of their range in Canada. Among those, six species are thought to be endemic to Canada: Blennothallia fecunda, Collema coniophilum, Dermatocarpon atrogranulosum, Dendriscocaulon oroboreale, Dendriscocaulon wrightii, Usnea fibrillosa. In total, 29 species have a high priority score (between 1 and 5). We also identified one species that is exotic at the national level. We do not have enough knowledge on 181 species to give them a rank other than NU or NNR. No species of macrolichens are considered migratory.

All the macrolichens were assessed in the Wild Species 2010 report. Since then, 334 species had a change in their status at the national level. A total of 18 species had an increased level of risk, 36 species had a reduced level of risk, and 124 species were changed from or to ranks U, NR, NA. Also, 76 species have been added to the list and 80 have been deleted from the list. Most of the changes (47%) are due to an improved knowledge of the species.

Figure 5. General status of macrolichens in Canada in 2015.
Bar graph (see long description below)
Long description for figure 5

Figure 5 shows the general status of macrolichens in Canada in 2015. The bar graph shows the number of macrolichen species ranked presumed extirpated, possibly extirpated, critically imperiled, imperiled, vulnerable, apparently secure, secure, unrankable, unranked and not applicable in Canada, each province and territory and the 4 oceanic regions. Of the 857 species occurring in Canada, 11 were ranked as Possibly Extirpated, 70 as Critically Imperiled, 51 as Imperiled, 63 as Vulnerable, 164 as Apparently Secure, 313 as Secure, 180 as Unranked, and 4 as Not Applicable. Of the 353 species occurring in Yukon, 24 were ranked as Imperiled, 35 as Vulnerable, 65 as Apparently Secure, 46 as Secure, 95 as Unrankable, 1 as Unranked, and 87 as Not Applicable. Of the 325 species occurring in Northwest Territories, 9 were ranked as Critically imperiled, 32 as Imperiled, 28 as Vulnerable, 140 as Apparently Secure, 6 as Secure, and 110 as Unrankable. Of the 269 species occurring in Nunavut, 14 were ranked as Critically Imperiled, 28 as Imperiled, 53 as Vulnerable, 89 as Apparently Secure, and 85 as Unrankable. Of the 561 species occurring in British Columbia, 2 were ranked as Possibly Extirpated, 72 as Critically Imperiled, 70 as Imperiled, 96 as Vulnerable, 175 as Apparently Secure, 121 as Secure, 20 as Unrankable, and 5 as Not Applicable. Of the 414 species occurring in Alberta, 35 were ranked as Critically Imperiled, 65 as Imperiled, 100 as Vulnerable, 123 as Apparently Secure, and 91 as Unrankable. Of the 254 species occurring in Saskatchewan, 99 were ranked as Critically Imperiled, 43 as Imperiled, 37 as Vulnerable, 24 as Apparently Secure, 19 as Secure, and 32 as Unrankable. Of the 300 species occurring in Manitoba, 1 was ranked as Critically Imperiled, 2 as Imperiled, 15 as Vulnerable, 41 as Apparently Secure, 35 as Secure, 135 as Unrankable, 35 as Unranked, and 36 as Not Applicable. Of the 427 species occurring in Ontario, 23 were ranked as Possibly Extirpated, 50 as Critically Imperiled, 47 as Imperiled, 33 as Vulnerable, 128 as Apparently Secure, 92 as Secure, 53 as Unrankable, and 1 as Not Applicable. Of the 478 species occurring in Quebec, 36 were ranked as Possibly Extirpated, 101 as Critically Imperiled, 38 as Imperiled, 105 as Vulnerable, 103 as Apparently Secure, 94 as Secure, and 1 as Unrankable. Of the 330 species occurring in New Brunswick, 3 were ranked as Possibly Extirpated, 40 a Critically Imperiled, 32 as Imperiled, 51 as Vulnerable, 86 as Apparently Secure, 49 as Secure, 67 as Unrankable, and 2 as Not Applicable. Of the 335 species occurring in Nova Scotia, 60 were ranked as Critically Imperiled, 63 as Imperiled, 44 as Vulnerable, 57 as Apparently Secure, 82 as Secure, and 29 as Unrankable. Of the 161 species occurring in Prince Edward Island, 33 were ranked as Critically Imperiled, 14 as Imperiled, 4 as Vulnerable, 40 as Apparently Secure, 13 as Secure, and 57 as Unrankable. Of the 197 species occurring in Labrador, 8 were ranked as Imperiled, 6 as Vulnerable, 28 as Apparently Secure, 28 as Secure, 107 as Unrankable, 7 as Unranked, and 13 as Not Applicable. Of the 314 species occurring in Newfoundland, 6 were ranked as Critically Imperiled, 24 as Imperiled, 52 as Vulnerable, 59 as Apparently Secure, 44 as Secure, 108 as Unrankable, 9 as Unranked, and 12 as Not Applicable. There were no species listed as occurring in the oceanic regions.

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