Climate change is dramatically altering the growing patterns of mushrooms, toadstools and other fungi, new research has found.
There are around 18,000 different species of fungi in the UK -- three times as many as all plants put together. They provide vital ecosystem services for the welfare of native trees and other plants, and are the natural recyclers of the planet, but until now their response to global climate change has not been examined.
A team from Cardiff University’s School of Biosciences working on a project led by Royal Holloway, University of London and with the Natural Environment Research Council Centre for Ecology and Hydrology studied more than 52,000 fungal fruiting records from nearly 1,400 localities collected in southern England between 1950 - 2005.
The study found that fungi are fruiting significantly earlier and for a longer period than ever before. In the 1950s fungi fruited over a period of around 33 days but this has more than doubled to nearly 75 days in the current decade.
Professor Lynne Boddy, Cardiff School of Biosciences said: "The increase in the overall fruiting period is dramatic, and much higher than equivalent spring data reported for plants, insects or birds."
The study found that the alteration in fungal fruiting mirrors changes in British temperatures that have occurred since 1975. The increase in late summer temperatures and autumnal rains has caused early season species to fruit earlier and late season species to continue to fruit later. Furthermore, climate warming seems to have caused significant numbers of species to begin fruiting in spring as well as autumn, suggesting increases in decay rates in forests.
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