Wild Species 2015: fungi kingdom
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.
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.
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