Cantharellus vaginatus is a species of chanterelle known from Yunnan, China and Sikkim, India. While currently known from only two sites, it is likely to be more widespread than currently known. There is ongoing forest cover loss within the potential range of the species, but also extensive areas where there does not appear to be forest loss, and so a decline is only tentatively suspected based on the uncertainty of the species’ full distribution. Taking into account some of the uncertainties the population size is estimated to be between 5,000 and 25,000 mature individuals in one subpopulation.
Overall, therefore, the species would not meet the conditions for listing under criterion D, and is unlikely to warrant listing under criteria A, B or E. However, depending on whether the species is confirmed to be in decline or not, and the overall population size, it could fall anywhere between Vulnerable and Least Concern under criterion C. Currently there is insufficient data to meet all the conditions for Vulnerable, but given the potential population size range, a precautionary outlook is taken and C. vaginatus is assessed as Near Threatened under criterion C2a(ii).
This species is known to occur within India and China. It has been described as growing under Betula species in temperate broadleaf forest within India (East Dist. Sikkim) and in Pinus and Castanopsis forest in southwestern China (Dehong, Yunnan Province) (Shao et al. 2011 Buyck et al. 2018), the latter being the type locality. It is likely to be more widespread in at least the intervening areas, and potentially at additional sites as well (I. Olariaga Ibarguren in. litt. 2022).
This is a caespitose to gregarious species (Shao et al. 2011 Buyck et al. 2018), and so it is estimated that there would be 10 mature individuals per functional individual (per Dahlberg and Mueller 2011). While currently known from only two sites, there is a lot of suitable habitat remaining between these two sites and beyond, and so at a modest estimate the number of sites for the species could be c. 250 times the number of known sites. Therefore, if each site only were to contain a single functional individual then the total population size would be estimated to be c. 5,000 mature individuals. This would be taking a very precautionary attitude, as some sites will contain more than one functional individual, and there is the potential for the range of the species to extend further than just the intervening areas between known records. Using a higher estimate for the number of functional individuals per site of five, would then give a maximum number of mature individuals of 25,000. The species is suspected to fall into one subpopulation.
There is ongoing habitat loss within the wider range, and indeed in Dehong forest cover loss has been recorded (see World Resources Institute 2023). However, there are also large areas of undisturbed forest (see World Resources Institute 2023) within the potential range and so the extent to which this species may be in decline is uncertain. Precautionarily, an ongoing population decline is suspected.
Population Trend: Decreasing
This species is known to grow in clusters in Pinus and Castanopsis forest. It has also been known to grow under Betula species either gregariously or in groups.
There is ongoing forest cover loss within its range (see World Resources Institute 2023), but whether this impacts the species directly is uncertain at the moment, without clearer details pertaining to the full distribution of the species. The likely driver of this is for agricultural practices.
Further research is required in order to get a clearer understanding of the full distribution of the species, as well as to get a more accurate estimate of the population size and trend. This would then help to get a clearer idea of the specific threats the species may face. Work to investigate whether it is associated with any specific plant species would also be useful.
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