Phylloporia minuta was described by Bittencourt et al. (2018) after specimens collected in Blumenau, Southern Brazil. Currently, the species has no synonyms. Its epithet refers to the very small size of basidiomata.
Phylloporia minuta is a small parasitic polypore. It was described in 2018 after specimens collected in a Urban Protected Area of Atlantic Forest, Southern Brazil, growing on stems of a climbing plant, Doliocarpus schottianus Eichler. It was found again in 2019, on the same host, in another preserved forest area next to the urban area of other municipality, in Santa Catarina states. It is expected that it is a specific parasite of D. schottianus. The known and expected distribution is covered by Atlantic Forest, which is under an array of deforestation, among other threats. More research on neotropical polypores are needed to confirm the potential distribution of this species, its biology and population trends.
Phylloporia minuta is assessed as Vunerable (VU) under criterion C2a(ii).
Phylloporia minuta is a parasitic species so far known to grow exclusively on Doliocarpus schottianus, an endemic climbing plant of the coastal Atlantic Forest of Southern-Southeastern Brazil. It is currently known from a small urban conservation unit in the downtown of Blumenau municipality and an experimental area of the University of Joinville municipality, both in Santa Catarina State, southern Brazil. Its distribution is expected to match that of its host’s, spanning over 1300 Km throughout the coastal Atlantic Forest, from Santa Catarina state, in the South, to Espirito Santo state in Southeast Brazil, being endemic to this area.
The species is currently known from 2 sites and 11 collections. It is very small (<20 mm), and is found on living stems of climbing plants. The small size and its occurrence on an overlooked substrate are the probable reasons why it has only been recently described, despite the areas where it is known from being historically well sampled. The species inconspicuity make it difficult to find, meaning that it could be more common than the current lack of collections may suggest.
The species distribution is expected to match that of its host’s, spanning over 1300 Km throughout the coastal Atlantic Forest, from Santa Catarina state, in the south, to Espirito Santo state, in Southeast Brazil.
Its host, Doliocarpus schottianus, is relatively common in pristine, humid forests of the coastal Atlantic Forest. However, the habitat where it is found is now much rarer than it was in the past, as the Atlantic Forest is now reduced to 28% of what it once was, with the remaining areas being mostly fragmented and not fully mature (Rezende 2018). This suggests that in the past the species was probably much more abundant, with its population now being just a fraction of what it once was.
There are an estimated 200 sites of occurrence along its host’s distribution, each containing up to 30-50 mature individuals. Total population size is estimated at no more than 10.000 mature individuals.
Population Trend: Decreasing
The species is an obligate parasite, growing on young stems of D. schottianus, a climbing plant (Bittencourt et al. 2018) endemic to the Southern-Southeastern coastal Atlantic Forest in humid and mature forests. Doliocarpus schottianus, is selective hygrophyte and sciophyte, frequent in the interior of primary forest (Kubitzki & Reitz 1971). The fungus is expected to occur along its host throughout its distribution, being also endemic to the coastal Atlantic Forest.
Phylloporia minuta is found in the Atlantic Forest of Brazil, regarded as biodiversity Hotspots for conservation priorities due to its high diversity, endemism rates and habitat loss (Myers et al. 2000). This phytogeographical domain is estimated to have only 28% of its vegetation remaining (Rezende et al. 2018). According to Pinto et al. (2006), the Atlantic Forest is in this situation due to predatory exploitation of the resources and human actions, like territorial occupation. About 60% of the Brazilian population lives in the Atlantic Forest, mainly in coastal areas, where the country’s largest cities are located (Rezende et al. 2018). Other threats to the Atlantic Forest include hunting, increase in fire frequency and intensity, introduction of invasive species and the connection between these factors (Brooks & Balmford 1996, Tabarelli et al. 2004, Pinto et al. 2006). Also, reduction and ‘savannization’ of Atlantic Forest is expected due to climate change in the next decades (Salazar et al. 2007).
The main actions to prevent the decline of the species are the protection of its habitat by the implementation of conservation units and enforcement of public policies to recover secondary forests.
More surveys are needed to better understand the species distribution, as well as to confirm its host specificity and its phenology.
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