Gliophorus europerplexus is a “waxcap grassland” species and an indicator of mycologically rich but nutrient-poor grassland. This habitat, often, but not always of low conservation concern for its plant and animal diversity, is rapidly disappearing worldwide due to changes in land use (intensification of farming practice, ploughing and increased use of fertilizers and pesticides) and increasing airborne eutrophication.
This species was only described in 2013 as a result of DNA analysis but, with experience, it can be recognized in the field. It was formerly misdetermined as Hygrocybe psittacinus var. perplexa or H. perplexa. However these names are based on Hygrophorus perplexus which has been shown (DNA barcode analysis) to be a North American taxon. It is currently known from very few localities and all are within western Europe. Decline in area and quality of available grassland habitat has approached (or possibly exceeded) 30% over the last 50 years. This decline in habitat is expected to continue even more rapidly over the next 50 years (approximately three generations: one generation for waxcap species is estimated to be around 17 years). Currently the known population size is only ca. 70 mature individuals but as this species will have been recorded in some places as merely an undescribed form of the G. psittacinus complex or as H. psittacina v. perplexa (itself likely to consist of at least two species in Europe), the true figure is currently unknown and could possibly be over 2,500. The species is assessed as Vulnerable because of a reduction in population size of more than 30% over the last 50 years, a decline suspected to continue and caused by habitat loss and degradation. This meets the threshold for VU A2c+3c+4c.
Barcode sequences from European specimens were compared with those obtained from the holotype and paratypes of G. perplexus collected in Michigan. Thus far, no European seqs match the N. American ones. Specimens from two Welsh localities matching the European concept of H. psittacina v. perplexa yielded sequences which clustered together. They were used to typify the new species G. europerplexus.
Currently known in western Europe but possibly occurring elsewhere on the continent.
DNA-verified collections (holotype and paratypes) from two localities in Wales as shown on The Lost & Found Fungi Project website.
Fidalgo (2017) documented specimens (including some verified by sequence matching with ex-type sequences) from 5 northern Spanish localities (the Basque Country and Asturias). Currently only ca. 70 mature individuals recorded but true figure currently unknown due to poorly resolved taxonomic status and could be over 2,500. More than 75% of the grassland habitats in the EU are in an unfavourable condition according to draft data provided by Member States under Article 17 of the Habitats Directive. Over the past decade, grassland butterflies have suffered large declines in Europe, with a reduction of almost 50%, with little sign of improvement (http://ec.europa.eu/environment/nature/biodiversity/comm2006/pdf/sebi_full.pdf).
Population Trend: Deteriorating
Waxcaps are currently regarded as forming a biotrophic relationship with grassland plants but the details remain unclear.
Changes in land use especially farming practices and eutrophication. Waxcaps are nitrogen-sensitive organisms.
Grazing, at least before the onset of the fruiting season is important for conservation of waxcaps. On sites (e.g. sloping, thin soils) where cattle would cause soil erosion, sheep are the preferred grazing animal.
Further site survey and recording needed. DNA-supported verification of records is important. Ecological research required on clarifying resource relations
Ainsworth, A.M., Cannon, P.F. & Dentinger, B.T.M. (2013). DNA barcoding and morphological studies reveal two new species of waxcap mushrooms (Hygrophoraceae) in Britain. Mycokeys 7:45–62.
Boertmann, D. (2010). The genus Hygrocybe. Fungi of Northern Europe 1. 2nd revised edition. Danish Mycological Society, Copenhagen.
Fidalgo, E. (2017). Aportación al conocimiento del género Gliophorus Herink. Revista micológica “Errotari” No. 14 Año 2017: 19–34.
Lost & Found Fungi Project website: http://fungi.myspecies.info/content/lost-found-fungi-project