Phaeoclavulina camellia is a leaf litter saprophyte, coralloid fungus that occurs in the Montana jungle in the Yungas phytogeographic region, being endemic to them. It is found producing its basidiomes from February to March in humid sites associated with forests preserved in the Yungas, with 5 records in Argentina and 1 in Bolivia. The species is found in the middle stratum of the Selva Montana in the Yungas, ranging from 700-1500 m.a.s.l. This species is characterized by having a distinctive pink coloration at its tip. Despite the fact that diversity studies in these forests have not been very numerous, in recent years, only two collections have been found in the same site during 2019-2020. Previously in the 20th century, 4 sites had been found with one collection each where the species occurs. Given that the ecosystem where the species lives is strongly influenced by anthropic effects (e.g. deforestation, agriculture and livestock) and climate change (Grau & Brown 2000, Brown et al. 2002, Pacheco et al. 2010), it is inferred that the population of 2000-10000 individuals is in continuing decline. It is considered that this size population could be even lower. For all these reasons the species is assessed as Vulnerable - VU C2a(ii).
Phaeoclavulina camellia (Corner) Giachini, was described from the Yungas forests in Argentina under the name of Ramaria camellia by Corner.
Phaeoclavulina camellia is a saprophytic coralloid fungus that occurs in the Montana jungle in the Yungas phytogeographic region, being endemic to it. This species is characterized by having a distinctive pink coloration at its tip. Despite the fact that diversity studies in these forests have not been very numerous, in recent years, only two collections have been found in the same site during 2019-2020. Previously in the 20th century, 4 sites had been found with one collection each where the species occurs. Only 6 collections of this species are known, so it is considered that it is not a very abundant species.
Currently, there are only 6 known occurrences of Phaeoclavulina camellia in the Yungas region, with 5 in Argentina and 1 in Bolivia. The species is found in the middle stratum of the Selva Montana in the Yungas, ranging from 700-1500 m.a.s.l. Therefore, it is believed to be an endemic species to the montane forests of the Argentine and Bolivian Yungas. A metabarcoding study of soil samples taken from throughout the Argentine Yungas found the species at only one of those 24 sampled sites, which was also limited to the 700-1500 m.a.s.l range (Geml et al., 2014). Based on this information, it is likely that the species is rare throughout its entire range.
Phaeoclavulina camellia occurs in the Selva Montana middle stratum of the Yungas ranging from 700–1500 m.a.s.l. For this reason, it is estimated that the species is distributed in the montane forest along the Argentinean and Bolivian Yungas, being an endemic and likely rare species.The population of the species is inferred to be between 2000 and 10000 mature individuals and three generations of the fungus are equivalent to 20 years.
The Yungas forest had already lost more than 31% of its original extent as of 2010 as a consequence of intense anthropogenic disturbance associated with extensive ranching, agricultural and urban expansion (Malizia et al. 2012) . The strong anthropogenic impact added to the effects of climate change play an important role in the reduction of the area in mountain ecosystems (Grau & Brown 2000, Brown et al. 2002, Pacheco et al. 2010). Rising temperatures may be altering the climate of tropical mountains, resulting in a shifting cloud base that threatens the long-term survival of cloud forests (Still et al. 1999). It’s important to note that these values are based on data from 2010, and the actual extent of loss may be even higher at present. It is expected that the suitable areas for species to occur will decrease at the rate at which forest loss is occurring, as well as due to changes in the use of unprotected areas, which represent 45% of the total surface area of the Yungas. It is noteworthy that only 24% of the Yungas is currently protected in some form or another (Malizia et al. 2012).
Population Trend: Decreasing
Phaeoclavulina camellia produces basidiomes from February to March and is a leaf litter saprophyte. It is found in humid sites associated with forests preserved in the Yungas.
Cloud forests (Yungas) are severely threatened by anthropogenic and climatic disturbances, e.g., deforestation, fires, urban expansion, and climate change (Grau & Brown 2000, Brown et al. 2002, Pacheco et al. 2010). Rising temperatures may be altering the climate of tropical mountains, resulting in a shifting cloud base that threatens the long-term survival of cloud forests (Still et al. 1999). As of 2010, the Yungas forest had already lost more than 31% of its original extent as a consequence of intense anthropogenic disturbance (Malizia et al. 2012). In this way, the decrease in the fungus habitat would be negatively affecting their abundance.
The habitat of this species is framed in some conservation sites such as: The Yungas Biosphere Reserve, Calilegua National Park, Baritu National Park, among others. These represent 13% of the surface of the Yungas. On the other hand, anthropic and livestock activities still persist in this territory, which causes a decrease in favorable sites for the development of the species. Promoting policies that restrict uses in conservation areas and creating new conservation areas would help to maintain areas conducive to fungal development.
It is important to accurately determine the true abundance of Phaeoclavulina camellia since it has the potential to be a flagship species in the Yungas ecosystem due to its striking beauty. Understanding the species’ range of distribution and ecological niche is necessary to confirm its occurrence only in the middle stratum due to specific niche requirements or if this stratum is the most conserved within the ecosystem.
Brown, A. D., Grau, A., Lomáscolo, T., & Gasparri, N. I. (2002). Una estrategia de conservación para las selvas subtropicales de montaña (yungas) de Argentina.
Geml, J., Pastor, N., Fernandez, L., Pacheco, S., Semenova, T. A., Becerra, A. G., ... & Nouhra, E. R. (2014). Large‐scale fungal diversity assessment in the Andean Yungas forests reveals strong community turnover among forest types along an altitudinal gradient. Molecular ecology, 23(10), 2452-2472.
Grau, A., & Brown, A. D. (2000). Development threats to biodiversity and opportunities for conservation in the mountain ranges of the Upper Bermejo River Basin, NW Argentina and SW Bolivia. AMBIO: A Journal of the Human Environment, 29(7), 445-450.
Pacheco, S., Malizia, L. R., & Cayuela, L. (2010). Effects of climate change on subtropical forests of South America. Tropical Conservation Science, 3(4), 423-437.
Still, C. J., Foster, P. N., & Schneider, S. H. (1999). Simulating the effects of climate change on tropical montane cloud forests. Nature, 398(6728), 608-610.
Malizia, L., Pacheco, S., Blundo, C., & Brown, A. D. (2012). Caracterización altitudinal, uso y conservación de las Yungas Subtropicales de Argentina. Ecosistemas, 21(1-2).