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Department of Geography


Linking European fungal ecology with climate variability

Although the fungal kingdom represents important components of many of the Earth’s ecosystems, our understanding of its role under environmental and climatic changes is still limited. The new Euro-FC project of the SNSF will therefore analyse the largest and most comprehensive collection of around 7 million fungal records. Based on a unique data basis and the application of innovative, cross-disciplinary methodologies, we will analyse a multitude of spatiotemporal dynamics of fungal fruiting over Europe and the last decades. Species-based fruiting responses to environmental factors will be addressed to provide novel insights into aspects of fungal productivity and diversity. More specifically, Euro-FC will focus on autumnal-based research on ecological effects of climate change, which describes a still neglected component when compared to similar endeavours related to the spring season. In so doing the project will address at least two pending issues within the emerging field of eco-mycology: 1) How has fungal fruiting varied in Europe since the mid-20th century, and to what extent are phenological responses consistent with the phenology observed among other organisms? 2) How did and does climate variability affect the observed patterns in continental-scale mushroom phenology, both at intra-annual and multi-decadal time-scales? Scientific outcome from the 18-months post-doc is expected to be particularly timely and relevant, because climate-induced changes in fungal fruiting, as well as possible direct and indirect associations with environmental drivers, have not yet been described at up to weekly resolution over most of continental Europe.

Figure: Climatic drivers of the mycorrhizal and saprotrophic fungal web, including biotic (e.g., host plants and fungal partners) and abiotic (e.g. environmental change) factors as well as above and belowground processes and pathways (modified from Büntgen et al. 2013 GCB).