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Claustula fischeri K.M. Curtis

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Scientific name
Claustula fischeri
K.M. Curtis
Common names
Fischer's Egg
Bunyip Egg (Grey & Grey, 2005)
IUCN Specialist Group
Mushroom, Bracket and Puffball
Assessment status
Assessment date
IUCN Red List Category
IUCN Red List Criteria
B2ab(ii,iii,iv,v); C2a(i)
Buchanan, P. & May, T.
Dahlberg, A.

Assessment Notes

The content on this page is fetched from The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species: https://www.iucnredlist.org/species/75720773/75720776


Endemic saprotrophic fungus of wet forests with either Eucalyptus, NothofagusLeptopsermum and/or Kunzea in Tasmania (Australia) and New Zealand. Single species in the genus Claustula. The number of known locations is six in Tasmania and two in New Zealand. In Australia, the species has been a target species of the Fungimap recording scheme since the mid 1990s. In Tasmania, nearly all records of C. fischeri are by one team of recorders, who have carried out intensive surveys across the state, and in particular in the known distribution of this species.

In New Zealand, Claustula fischeri is classified as Nationally Critical under the New Zealand Department of Conservation Threat Classification System.

Using IUCN Red List assessment criteria and following recommendations by Dahlberg and Mueller (2011), the species is assessed as Endangered (EN) under criterion B2 as the area of occupancy is less than 500 km2 (total 340  km2, consisting of Tasmania 300 km2 and New Zealand 40 km2) along with meeting the subcriteria (a) severely fragmented. Also, in the two largest populations at Mt Wellington (adjacent to suburban Hobart city, Tasmania) and Fringed Hill (outskirts of Nelson city, New Zealand) there are factors leading to continued decline in (iii) quality of the habitat, in particular habitat degradation by Mountain Bike usage in New Zealand in the direct vicinity of the known site, as well as increasing recreational usage of both main sites due to proximity to urban areas.The species is also assessed as Endangered (EN) under criterion C2a(i) as the total population is estimated to consist of less than 2,500 mature individuals, the habitat is estimated to be continuing to decline and each subpopulation is estimated to consist of only few individuals.

Taxonomic notes

Monotypic genus, phylogenetically in Phallales. Described from New Zealand in 1926, and considered endemic until reported from the Australian island state of Tasmania in 1997. Mills et al. (1997) noted some morphological differences in Tasmanian specimens from descriptions of New Zealand material. No detailed comparison, morphological or molecular, has been made to test conspecificity of material from New Zealand and Tasmania. Macro-morphology of fruit-bodies indicate very close similarity.

Geographic range

Endemic to Australia and New Zealand. The Australian records are located to Tasmania (in total six locations - all in a very small region to the east and west of the capital city, Hobart). Two records from New Zealand; one location near Nelson (in the north of the South Island), and one near Gore (at the south of the South Island). The Australian records are from the Fungimap database, accessed via the Atlas of Living Australia (ALA, (http://bie.ala.org.au/species/Claustula+fischeri). There are 59 records from Australia in the ALA, but many are duplicates. Fungimap is a mapping scheme for Australian fungi, and Claustula has been a specific target of the scheme since the late 1990s. C. fischeri was included in the guide to Fungimap target species, Fungi Down Under, published in 2005, so there has been good information available about the species and its potential habitats over the last decade - but still very few sites reported. See also Mills et al (1997) and Buchanan & May (2003).

For Australia, there are six locations. At five, there is just one site. At Mount Wellington there are about 10 sites, within a relatively close area (<3 km apart). There are two locations in N.Z; at both there are very few observations or collections. At Gore there is a single collection, and at the Nelson site , there are several collections (including the type collection) and observations but all relate to the same site (Fringed Hill and surrounding track).

The total number of known sites is 17. Some allowance needs to be made for undetected sites. The species has been a focus of search efforts, especially by being a Fungimap target species for the last two decades. In addition, most of the sightings from Tasmania come from the records of David Ratkowsky and Genevieve Gates, who have carried out extensive surveys for fungi across Tasmania over the last two decades. Similarly, in New Zealand, the species has been a special subject of interest for mycologists, such as during the  of annual New Zealand Fungal Forays, which have been carried out across both main islands of New Zealand since 1986. Therefore, we do not expect numerous additional locations. If the species were truly hypogeal, this factor could mean that a significant number of additional sites should be considered. However, several of the collections cited by Mills et al. (1997) and the New Zealand specimens are noted as being on soil or among moss rather than buried in soil.

Population and Trends

The species is characterized by fragmented populations, with disjunct distribution (Tasmania and New Zealand). Its habitat is vulnerable to damage by recreational use due to proximity to urban centres of population, and outdoor recreational activity. The  habitat of some locations near Hobart, Tasmania, is protected by Hobart City Council’s “Mountain Park” status. The main location in New Zealand, near Nelson, is threatened by further development of mountain bike trails, and Nelson City Council is seeking ways to minimise impact on Claustula by modifying proposed trail routes.

Population Trend: decreasing

Habitat and Ecology

The species is not restricted to a narrow habitat or vegetation type. It occurs in a variety of vegetation types and in Australia occurs in forest with and without Nothofagus. In Tasmania, is is mostly recorded in Eucalyptus forest, sometimes mixed with Nothofagaceae. In New Zealand, it occurs in forests dominated by Nothofagaceae (southern beech) and/or Leptospermum  and Kunzea (tea tree). Ecologically it is assumed to be saprobic in common with related taxa in Phallales. The spore dispersal mechanism is unknown, but bird dispersal has been postulated (Beever 1999).

Each collection or sighting of Claustula fischeri appears to be of one or more sporocarps that were within a small area, of less than 10 m diameter. It is notable that the species seems to be seen only once (within a small area) on a given visit to a site. These visits often entail searching of a significantly wider area over a significant period of time because they have been part of systematics surveys. For example, at the Geeveston site in Tasmania, field work was carried out over several days in the general vicinity (within 10 km) of the one known site. At Mount Wellington, observations were often made during walks of several hours duration in similar habitat nearby. This pattern of occurrence is quite different to many other saprotrophs, where many individuals are scattered over large areas.


The few known localities are threatened by leisure activities (mountain biking, walking, dogs) in known locations. It lacks legal habitat protection. Additional potential threats are climate change, fire, earthquakes, severe weather event destroying forest habitat and encroaching exotic forestry.

Conservation Actions

The species is listed by New Zealand’s Department of Conservation as “Nationally Critical” (highest threat category) but with no legal protection.  Mycologists met with Nelson City Council representative in May 2014 to discuss minimising habitat degradation from proposed mountain bike trail construction at the best known location of Claustula fischeri in New Zealand; concerns were met with a positive reception.

Molecular comparison is planned to test conspecificity of populations in New Zealand and Tasmania, strongly suggested by macromorphology comparisons. Also planned is confirmation of range of host trees and the ecological relationship in New Zealand and Tasmania.

Use and Trade

The species is not known to be used

Source and Citation

Buchanan, P. & May, T. 2015. Claustula fischeri. The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species 2015: e.T75720773A75720776. https://dx.doi.org/10.2305/IUCN.UK.2015-4.RLTS.T75720773A75720776.en .Accessed on 5 February 2024

Country occurrence