Fungi - overlooked in international conservation initiatives

The aim of the global IUCN Red List of Threatened Species™ is to convey the urgency of conservation issues to the public and policy makers, as well as help the international community reduce species decline and extinction.

The IUCN Red List is widely recognized as the most comprehensive, objective global approach for evaluating the conservation status of animal, fungal and plant species, and it has a large impact on the setting of priorities in nature conservation.

However, a major limitation of the present global Red List is that fungi, despite being one of the most diverse and important groups of organisms, are basically absent from the list as no initiative to evaluate fungi has yet been made. Of the almost 20 000 globally red listed species, all but three are animals and plants. The three fungi consist of two lichens and one mushroom. This gross underrepresentation of fungi on the global Red List greatly hinders the inclusion of fungi in conservation discussions, access to funding programs, policy decisions, and conservation action.

Fungi are threatened

Species of fungi are threatened by habitat loss, loss of symbiotic hosts, pollution, over exploitation, and climate change, but the vast majority of fungal species have not been assessed.

The initiative aims to get 100s of threatened fungi globally red listed

This initiative aims to facilitate and to coordinate a concerted effort by the global mycological community to get at least 300 species of threatened fungi assessed and classified as globally red listed. In doing so, the initiative will raise the awareness of fungal conservation among mycologists, the conservation community, policy makers and the general public.

The purpose of this website is to develop a list of fungal candidate species that are likely to be globally red listed when evaluated, and to engage the global mycological community in this procedure.

Hopefully, the initiative will attract, educate, engage, and facilitate activities by both professional and amateur mycologists in fungal conservation. The submitted data will be fully accessible on the website, and the mycological community will be encouraged to add to and/or comment on the information to facilitate data accuracy and completeness.

The overall goal

The overall goal of the project is to get as many globally threatened fungi as possible on the IUCNs official global Red List by the end of 2014. The aim is to reach a least 300 species. This will be accomplished by:

  1. Mycologists around the world supplying information on the status of as many threatened fungal species as possible
  2. Having the submitted information openly available for comment and revision on this website
  3. Evaluating the proposed species using IUCN red list criteria. The evaluations to be undertaken by IUCNs fungal specialist groups and IUCN Red List unit members.
  4. Submitting fungal species satisfying IUCN criteria for inclusion on the IUCN Global Red List

Which species should be suggested?

In principle, any fungal species can be suggested to be globally evaluated. It is certainly valuable to have the global status assessed, irrespective of perceived threat status.

However, the focus of this project is to identify threatened fungal species from different fungal groups and from different parts of the world. Therefore, we encourage nomination of species that are most likely to fulfil the criteria to become globally red-listed. In particular we encourage a focus to be put on declining species, even with relative wide distribution ranges to be nominated along with extremely rare species with narrow distributions, as those species provide opportunities to develop conservation actions.

We also encourage prioritization of species that could attract the interest from the public, and hence also from decision makers and politicians .

Requirements to potentially qualify for the Global Red List

At least one of the criteria of IUCN below needs to be fulfilled:

  1. The population of the species has globally declined by at least 15% during the last 10 to 50 years (the A-criteria)
  2. The species has a geographically restricted distribution globally (single – to few countries) and is declining (the B-criteria)
  3. The species has a globally small population and is declining (the C-criteria)
  4. The species has a very small global population (< than 2000 reproducing fungal individuals) or is confined to very few and restricted areas (< 10 locations)

In the assessments of the criteria above, both known and yet unknown localities of a species need to be considered.

The procedure

This website is publicly available and anyone can register. The layout and workflow are “Wiki-like”, in the sense that all registered users can submit species proposals, contribute with data and make comments on already submitted proposals and content. Here is how to get started:

  1. Sign Up as a new user (you will then receive an e-mail with a confirmation link to complete your registration)
  2. Sign in with your login details. Check the option “remember me” if your not using a public computer
  3. Fill out and complete the User Profile form with your contact details

Instructions on how to get started with adding species proposals is available, both as step-by-step instructions in plain text and in a video tutorial.

Once your proposal has been submitted it is publicly available to view by both registered and unregistered users on the website. However, only registered users are authorized to add comments and to contribute with additional content. The user who first submits a species proposal (the proposer) is considered to be the “owner” of the submitted species and its associated content. This means that all other users are prevented from editing the main content, but they are encouraged to make additional contributions and comments that can be of help to the assessors and the IUCN Specialist groups that ultimately will evaluate all user contributions. The proposer can at any time revise it’s submitted content or choose to reset the proposed status back to default.

The website is just launched and is still evolving. All types of feedback, comments and suggestions on how to improve the website and the workflow is most welcome.

Who can contribute?

Proposal may be made by individuals, small groups of collaborators, mycological societies, or institutions. The success of this project will depend on the engagement of the mycological community, both professional and amateur, to nominate species, provide the needed information, and to check and comment on the submitted data to ensure that the required data are available and are as complete and accurate as possible. The final red list evaluations will be based on the information provided by the nominators and participants who have commented on the proposals.

Time schedule

The web site for nominating and uploading information of fungal species is planned to go public 1 September 2013. A call for participation will be sent out to mycologists all over the world through existing international and national mycological networks encouraging participation.

Nominations of fungi to be evaluated can be made until June 1th 2014

The fungal specialist groups will successively evaluate the nominations and deliver to IUCN a proposed list of fungi to become globally red listed by August 1th 2014.

A status report will be available on the web-site and delivered at the 10th International Mycological Congress in Bangkok, Thailand.

The IUCN global Red List of 2014 will be presented October/Nov 2014. Hopefully several hundred globally threatened fungi will be included on the List.

This specific initiative will conclude by the end of 2014, but the web site and process to compile information and suggest fungal species to be included to the global Red List will continue.


The initiative is being organized by the five IUCN fungal specialist group chairs together with Craig Hilton-Taylor at IUCN's Red List Unit. The project is led by Greg Mueller, chair of the mushroom, bracket and puffball specialist group. Michael Krikorev and Anders Dahlberg, mycologists at the Swedish Species Information Centre, have developed and run the web site. The global red-list evaluations of the nominated fungal species will be accomplished by the appropriate fungal specialist group under the coordination of Greg Mueller with supervision from IUCN.


The Mohamed bin Zayed Species Conservation Fund ( is generously supporting the initiative.


Any suggestions or comments are most welcome

Greg Mueller
Anders Dahlberg
Michael Krikorev

Chytrid, Zygomycete, Downy Mildew and Slime Mould Specialist Group

Lycogala epidendrum
Dr Mayra Camino Vilaro
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Cup-fungi, Truffles and Allies Specialist Group

Proliferodiscus tricolor
Dr David Minter
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Lichen Specialist Group

Letharia vulpina
Dr Christoph Scheidegger
Dr Olga Nadyeina
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Mushroom, Bracket and Puffball Specialist Group

Polyporus brumalis
Dr Greg Mueller
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Rust and Smut Specialist Group

Chrysomyxa woroninii
Dr Cvetomir M. Denchev
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