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Spongiforma squarepantsii Desjardin, Peay, T.D. Bruns

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Scientific name
Spongiforma squarepantsii
Desjardin, Peay, T.D. Bruns
Common names
IUCN Specialist Group
Mushroom, Bracket and Puffball
Assessment status
Assessment date
IUCN Red List Category
IUCN Red List Criteria
Ngadin, A.A.
Furci, G.

Assessment Notes

The content on this page is fetched from The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species: https://www.iucnredlist.org/species/155269816/155269858


This species is recently described (2011 from a 2008 collection) and there is limited information regarding it. There is only one confirmed site, and a second unconfirmed report. It appears to have very specific habitat requirements and is therefore considered to be genuinely rare. There are an estimated 50 sites in total which may support this species, and as this habitat is in decline it is assumed that the species' population is likely also declining. Based on its estimated small population size with presumably small subpopulations, it qualifies as Endangered C2a(i).

Geographic range

Spongiforma squarepantsii is only known from Lambir National Park in Sarawak, Malaysia, with a single collection from 2008, about 0.5 km from the road on a trail to a 52-hectare long-term forest dynamics research plot, 4u209N, 113u509E (Desjardin et. al. 2011). From 2011 until now there have been no new published records, but there is an unpublished and unconfirmed record from Terengganu, Peninsular Malaysia (around 1000 km away) by Su-See Lee. Another species in the genus, S. thailandica was described in 2010, having been collected from Thailand.

Population and Trends

This species is only confirmed to be found in the dipterocarp-dominated forest of the Lambir Hills in Sarawak, Malaysia (Desjardin et al. 2011). There is an unpublished and unconfirmed record from Peninsular Malaysia by Su-See Lee. 

This species was found in 2008 at the Lambir Hills National Park site. With very limited reports, and understanding of this species, it is difficult to assess the trend. The greater part of natural habitat within its distribution in Sarawak has been lost during the last 100 years due to logging and oil palm plantation. There has been a recent road development very near the only confirmed collection site. The continued decline of natural habitat suggests that this species' population is declining.

Because of its distinctive appearance and apparently unique and uncommon habitat, it is estimated that there are up to 50 localities each with perhaps two functional individuals (ramets) each comprising approximately five mature individuals (genets), i.e. a total population size of around 500 mature individuals. With so little information on its distribution it is not possible to be confident about its population structure, but given the widely dispersed patches of possible habitat, and that the unconfirmed report is 1000 km away from the confirmed collection, it is likely that there are multiple subpopulations each comprising fewer than 250 mature individuals.

Population Trend: decreasing

Habitat and Ecology

Spongiforma squarepantsii is a solitary, epigeous species found on ground under undetermined dipterocarp trees, known only found from one National Park in Sarawak at Lambir Hills National Park.  There is a possible unpublished and unconfirmed record from peninsular Malaysia by Lee Su See.


According to new maps of industrial logging, oil palm, and planted forest concessions compiled and published by Global Forest Watch, these concessions often overlap with sensitive intact forests (Petersen et al. 2015). This situation has reduced the extent of dipterocarp forest and the natural habitat of Spongiforma squarepantsii in Borneo. 

The National Park is a protected area however this species might be threatened by agricultural activities surrounding the national park (Yamashita et al. 2008) and the main road construction. It is expected that road infrastructure and road transport will also affect the habitat of this species.

Conservation Actions

There are currently no conservation efforts or actions taken for this species, though it is recorded from a protected area. Conservation actions are needed for this seemingly very rare species, especially to protect the habitat of the dipterocarp growth forests. Agriculture, road construction and logging activities in mature forests should be controlled to protect this species particularly in Borneo.

Study is required on this species' habitat requirements, as well as investigation of the unconfirmed report from Peninsular Malaysia and surveys of further possible localities.

Use and Trade

This species is not utilised.

Source and Citation

Ngadin, A.A. 2019. Spongiforma squarepantsii. The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species 2019: e.T155269816A155269858. https://dx.doi.org/10.2305/IUCN.UK.2019-3.RLTS.T155269816A155269858.en .Accessed on 2 February 2024

Country occurrence