Pseudoplectania vogesiaca is a saprotrophic wood-inhabiting, black and small cup fungus, depending on coarse woody debris – thick dead wood - as a food source. In Europe it grows probably exclusively on wood of white fir. It shows a tendency to grow in natural or semi-natural forests, as the required substrate is absent in many commercial forests. It is an indicator species for semi-natural forests, which are threatened by logging and more and more vanishing. It occurs mostly in spring after snowmelt; the preferred months are March to May with a clear growth peak in April. In total, finds are known in the period from December to May. Its worldwide distribution includes Europe, America and Asia. It is red-listed in at least five European countries as critically endangered or endangered. The substrate required by P. vogesiaca is absent in most of the managed forests in sufficient quantities, therefore the species is missing in many places and is mainly found in semi-natural forests. Although the latter are often taken out of commercial use, the general decline of the white fir even in natural forests, e.g., in the primeval forest of Boubínský Prales, where P. melaena is currently still quite common, poses a long-term threat.
Unmanaged forests are highly endangered by logging and management changes in many European countries, e.g. in Austria, only 3 % of Austrian forests are virgin forests (including very steep inaccessible ones) and Carbonate- and clay-spruce-fir-beech-forests, habitats of occurrence of Pseudoplectania melaena, are endangered biotopes types (Essl & Egger 2010).
Based on GBIF and databases available (see below) 172 subpopulations are known worldwide. The number of mature individuals has been estimated at 2064. The area of occupancy was estimated as being 1376 km2.
Considering criterum C it is Endangered C2ai because of small population size and decline, number of mature individuals only 2064 and umber of mature individuals in each subpopulation < 250. Criteria A and B result in VU: A2c: decline in AOO and is likely to increase further due to decline of natural and nature-like forests, i.e. habitat loss, and quality changes; B2ab(ii)(iii), because severely fragmented and AOO 1376 km2.
Pseudoplectania melaena (Fr.) Sacc., Syll. fung. (Abellini) 8: 165 (1889)
It is a saproxyl fungus, depending on coarse woody debris – thick dead wood - as a food source. In Europe it grows probably exclusively on wood of fir. It shows a tendency to grow in natural or semi-natural forests, as the required substrate (rotten pine deadwood) is scarcely present in many commercial forests. It is an indicator species for semi-natural habitats especially for semi-natural forests, which are threatened by logging and more and more vanishing. So suitable substrates and habitats are declining.
Its worldwide distribution is Europe, America (Canada, Mexico, USA) and Asia (China, Japan and Taiwan). In Europe the species follows the natural range of white fir, but also collections outside this area or of other fir species are known.
Based on GBIF and databases available (see below) 172 subpopulations are known worldwide. The number of mature individuals has been estimated at 2064 following these lines: (a) likely number of current localities (estimated to be ca. 344) (b) translation of the estimated total number of localities to an estimate of the total number of mature individuals in 2 steps (i calculate the number of functional individuals (ie. conspecific sporomata inhabiting an individual tree, template = 2, = 1032): estimation of total number of localities × estimation of the average number of functional individuals/locality; ii convert the number of functional individuals into mature individuals following Dahlberg & Mueller 2011, template = 2 because few aggregates sporomata on a trunk should be counted as two mature individuals; = 2064). The number of known localities is 172 and the number of yet unknown localities was estimated to be twice as high. Mature individuals are very rare.
The AOO was estimated as being 1376 km2, based on 2 x 2 m = 4 km2 for each locality, because almost all of the basidiospores of a mature fruit body are deposited within this area (Norros et al. 2012). Functional individuals of lignicolous fungi have to be calculated per trunk or log because of the mycelia (ramets) inhabiting the log, stump or root. For the AOO one has also to consider spore dispersal distance. Most spores of a mature individual are dispersed within 10s of metres, only a minor proportion is dispersed over longer distances. Due to competition with other spores and other environmental factors (e.g. wood degradation stage, succession stage), colonization ability leading to a new generation via spore germination and establishment is only possible with a high number of spores deposited. This high number is only reached within the above mentioned 60-80 m, meaning that the AOO of a single ramet and its offspring is no more than 80 m. So calculating with the suggested 2 x 2 km2 is more than sufficient for AOO. For taxa that have a cryptic life form (such as fungi) occurrences may be estimated by tallying the area of 2 x 2 km2 (= 4 km2) grid cell in which observation records are located using equation 4.1. (IUCN Guidelines 2017): AOO = no. occupied cells × area of an individual cell. As it is still very difficult to have accurate distribution data, in case of macromycetes the no. of occupied cells is equated with no. of sites known.
Population Trend: Decreasing
It is a saproxyl mushroom species, depending on dead wood as a food source. In Central Europe it grows probably exclusively on wood of fir (Abies alba). Findings from dissimilar substrates (eg Picea abies) should be compared to the recently described species Pseudoplectania lignicola. In other areas of Europe, finds on Abies nordmanniana and A. holophylla are known. The following substrates are reported from other continents: Abies kawakamii (Taiwan), A. religiosa (Mexico), A. grandis (USA, Canada), and even Thuja plicata (USA)
In Central Europe, P. melaena shows a tendency to grow in natural or semi-natural forests, as the required substrate (rotten white fir deadwood) is scarcely present in many commercial forests. In areas with plenty of deadwood, the species can fructify very numerous and is then sometimes among the most common spring fungi. This applies in particular to near-natural montane beech-fir spruce forests like the natural forest Lahnsattel (Lower Austria) or outside of Austria to different areas of the Bohemian Forest. For this reason, P. vogesiaca is sometimes regarded as an indicator species for semi-natural habitats especially for semi-natural forests, which was recently confirmed in the comparison of several near-natural spruce-fir-beech forests.
At suitable locations it can be found for years, e.g. in the natural forest Lahnsattel (St. Aegyd am Neuwalde) where the species was first observed in 1992, and the latest evidence comes from 2017.
Pseudoplectania vogesiaca prefers to grow on recumbent, heavily pruned, barked, and overgrown trunks and thicker branches. Since the dead wood acts as a water reservoir, the species can form fruit bodies even in unfavourable weather conditions.
Phenologically it fructifies mostly in spring from snowmelt; the preferred months in Austria are March to May with a clear growth peak in April. In total, finds are known in the period from December to May.
It is in several European Red Lists: Germany (highly endangered), Austria (highly endangered), Slovakia (endangered), Switzerland (highly endangered), the Czech Republic (highly endangered). The species is therefore included in most of the red lists of Central European countries and at least classified as endangered. In Germany, the populations shows declining tendencies.
The substrate required by P. vogesiaca - rotten fir dead wood - is present in most of the managed forests in insufficient quantities, therefore the species is missing in many places or is mainly found in semi-natural forests. Although the latter are often taken out of commercial use, the general decline of the white fir even in natural forests, e.g., in the primeval forest of Boubínský Prales, where P. melaena is currently still quite common, poses a long-term threat.
In managed forests the targeted promotion of white fir and its deadwood, e.g. in the form of old wood islands, could be a great contribution to foster biodiversity and also to the protection of Pseudoplectania vogesiaca. Many other endangered species of fungi rely on fir deadwood and would also benefit from appropriate measures.
In uncultivated forests longer-term inventories of the funga should be executed, in combination with studies on the local stock trend of the white fir, so as to define the most accurate risk situation and appropriate conservation measures.
There is no use and trade known.
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Friebes, G., 2017: Der Gestielte Tannen-Schwarzborstling (Pseudoplectania melaena) – Gefährdeter Pilz des Jahres 2018 für Österreich. _ Mitt. Österr. Mykolog. Ges. 185/2: 6-10.
Holec, J., Kříž ,M., 2013: Current occurrence of Pseudoplectania melaena (Fungi, Ascomycota) in the Boubínský Prales National Nature Reserve. – Silva Gabreta 19(2): 72–80.
Holec, J., Kříž, M., Pouzar, Z., Šandová, M., 2015: Boubínský prales virgin forest, a Central European refugium of boreal-montane and old-growth forest fungi. – Czech Mycol. 67(2): 157–226.
IUCN Standards and Petitions Subcommittee. 2017. Guidelines for using the IUCN Red List Categories and Criteria. Version 13. Prepared by the Standards and Petitions Subcommittee. http://nc.iucnredlist.org/redlist/content/attachment_files/RedListGuidelines.pdf
Norros, V. et al. 2012. Dispersal may limit the occurrence of specialist wood decay fungi already at small spatial scales.
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ÖMG (2017): Datenbank der Pilze Österreichs, http://austria.mykodata.net/
Van Vooren, N., Moyne, G., Carbone, M., Moingeon, J.-M., 2013: Pseudoplectania melaena (Pezizales): taxonomical and nomenclatural note. – Ascomycete.org 5(1): 47–52.