Cloudy with a chance of fungi

Study assesses current knowledge and compiles distributions of fungi in Neotropical montane cloud forests

GBIF-mediated data resources used : 7,067 species occurrences
Laetiporus cincinnatus
White-pored chicken of the woods (Laetiporus cincinnatus) by Greg Lasley via iNaturalist. Photo licensed under CC BY-NC 4.0.

Persistently immersed in clouds, neotropical montane cloud forests (NMCF) represent distinct biological communities, different from other tropical forests. Exhibiting an abundance of plants and usually high endemism, NMCF are unique sites of biodiversity. Despite ecological importance and ubiquity of fungi, very little is known about the NMCF distribution of this massive group of organisms.

In a comprehensive data mining exercise, researchers set out to describe in detail the distributional patterns and composition of microfungi, macrofungi and lichens in NMCF. Relying on published literature, GBIF-mediated occurrences as well as other online sources, the authors compile 6,349 records representing 2962 fungal species. Based on a computed species rarefaction curve, the authors estimate that doubling the sampling effort would increase number of species by 42 per cent.

Providing a thorough perpective on diversity and distribution of fungi in NMCF, the study concludes that Mesoamerica, particularly Mexico and Costa Rica, has the highest species richness, and compared to NMCF in the Caribbean and South America, the fungal assemblages are significantly different with very little overlap.

Del Olmo-Ruiz M, García-Sandoval R, Alcántara-Ayala O, Véliz M and Luna-Vega I (2017) Current knowledge of fungi from Neotropical montane cloud forests: distributional patterns and composition. Biodiversity and Conservation. Springer Nature 26(8): 1919–1942. Available at: