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The first official Red Data List for British fungi

Kew mycologists collaborate on the first official fungal Red Data List for Great Britain.
Toad stool: Boletus immutatus is one of the fungi now on the official British Red List (Image: M. Ainsworth)

Red Data Lists provide a widely used format for publicising the relative extinction risk faced by various taxa. Although British fungal Red Data Lists were published in 1992 and 2006, neither of these achieved official approval by the UK Joint Nature Conservation Committee (JNCC), thereby diminishing their effectiveness in conservation decision-making.

To remedy this, the family Boletaceae was chosen in 2012 to establish a template for fungal conservation status assessments. The aim was to facilitate production of British RDLs conforming to international standards set by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) and published by JNCC.

Working with Natural England, representatives of two national fungal databases (held by the Association of British Fungus Groups and the British Mycological Society) and a team at Cardiff University, Kew mycologists produced the first official fungal Red Data List for Great Britain, which was duly published by JNCC in 2013. Of the 68 taxa studied, 13 were assessed as threatened and 37 are now ‘red-listed’.

In a departure from traditional record-based assessments, the project used DNA sequencing of fungarium specimens to verify occurrences of selected species at selected sites. One of the more surprising outcomes of this approach was that no authentic Boletus regius (royal bolete) sequences were recovered from the British specimens so-named. This legally-protected fungus is apparently not British and so its conservation status could not be evaluated.

Item from Dr Martyn Ainsworth (Senior Mycologist, RBG Kew)
Kew Scientist, Issue 44

Article reference:

Ainsworth, A.M., Smith, J.H., Boddy, L., Dentinger, B.T.M., Jordan, M., Parfitt, D., Rogers, H.J. & Skeates, S.J. (2013). Red List of Fungi for Great Britain: Boletaceae; A pilot conservation assessment based on national database records, fruit body morphology and DNA barcoding. JNCC Species Status 14.

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