Lycoperdon rimulatum is a well characterized and easy-to-recognize medium-sized puffball with a wide distribution in North America (but apparently rare) and with a very restricted European distribution on dry acidic sandy grasslands and heathlands (partly EU Natura 2000 habitat 2340 - pannonian inland dunes) in regions with a continental climate in the Central and eastern parts (recent records only from
Slovakia and Ukraine). The species is likely to have declined considerably due to afforestation of continental acidic sand dunes in continental areas of Europe. Known occurrences extremely fragmented.The main threat to the species in Europe seems to be afforestation (mainly Pinus to stabilize inland sand dunes). A population decline is likely to have occurred as the area of open sandy, acidic grasslands in Europe has decreased. Current findings in Central Europe are restricted to isolated and ± tree-less military training fields surrounded by vast areas of pine plantations. In North America it is on record from eastern Canada and the central and eastern parts of the US and Arizona. The preferred habitat in N. America seems (as in Europe) to be tree-less sandy areas but there are also some reports from forests. Lycoperdon rimulatum does not occur on any national or regional red-lists.
Preliminary global Red List Assessment:
Europe: EN B2a b(iii, iv, v)
Euro assessment founded on: Assumption of the unknown number of sites = 10x known localities, =50. 10 genotypes per site, 10 ramets per genet. Total estimate= 5k ramets. AOO actual is 20km2 and estimated 10x to give total 200km2.
If we consider the species severely fragmented (although most of population as yet unknown) EN B2a b(iii, iv, v). If not severely fragmented then VU C2a(i)
Lycoperdon rimulatum is a puffball species occurring in a declining habitat (dry acidic grasslands). Its European distribution is fragmented with recent occurrences only in Slovakia and Ukraine. A few records (latest report from 2001; http://www.gbif.org) in Japan has extended its known world distribution. It is widely distributed in North America but is represented by only one record after 2000 (http://www.gbif.org).
Europe: Spain (one single, doubtful record), Italy (one doubtful record), Slovakia (Záhorie; < 5 locations, observed annually), Ukraine (2 records, one of which is recent). A record from the Czech Republic referred to by Smarda (1958) has proved to belong to a different species (Lycoperdon decipiens; Kreisel 1963). A Russian record (Rostov region) has also proved to be erroneous. North America: Canada (Nova Scotia and Ontario); USA (Arizona, Florida, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Maine, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, New Jersey, New York, North Carolina, North Dakota (?), Ohio, Oregon, Pennsylvania, South Dakota, Texas, Wisconsin), Mexico (several locations). Japan: four records.
There are no records of Lycoperdon rimulatum in the classical mycological literature covering Europe. In Lloyd’s herbarium (BPI) there is a collection dating back to the early 20:th century, which somewhat doubtfully originates from Spain. It is therefore difficult to estimate its previous distribution and population status in Europe. The characteristics of the currently known localities , make us suspect a distribution connected with the occurrence of acidic sandy habitats in continental areas. This is substantiated also by the its habitat preferences in North America. In Europe these sandy areas have largely been afforested to stop sand drift and are today partly integrated in forestry management. A dramatic decrease of potential habitats for Lycoperdon rimulatum can be supposed over the last 100 years or more. Today’s population in Slovakia comprises less than 100 individuals, the occurrences in
Ukraine need to be explored more closely, but are likely to be the same size. The more or less stabilized acidic sandy grasslands/heathlands in central Europe supposedly maintained their open character by grazing. Today grazing decreases and the habitat tend to overgrow if not managed (eg unintentionally by military activity). This indicates a continuous decline in the European population of Lycoperdon rimulatum. Current Eureopan population can be estimated (icluding unknown number of sites) to 10x known localities=50. 10 genotypes per site, 10 ramets per genet. Total estimate= 5k ramets. AOO actual is 20km2 and estimated 10x to give total 200km2.
Population Trend: Decreasing
Lycoperdon rimulatum is a saprotrophic species of nutrient-poor, dry acidic sandy habitats in continentally influenced regions.On its Slovak localities it occurs in both in totally tree-less grassland and in grassland/heathland with scattered Quercus and Pinus.This habitat agrees more or less with the EU Natura 2000 habitat 2340, which has a restricted European distribution and is a priority habitat in the EU. The former land management of this habitat was harvesting and grazing. The known localities of Lycoperdon rimulatum are situated in military training fields and are kept open mainly by the activities of the military. Surrounding areas are afforested with Pinus and no findings of L. rimulatum have been made in the adjacent forests, even though small relic sandy grassland habitats occur along paths and wheel tracks. Reports of L. rimulatum from forested habitats in the US, however, indicate a somewhat wider ecology on a global scale. From Arizona it is reported to occur in grassy open areas or amid leaf or needle debris under Abies, Quercus and Pinus ponderosa. The Mexican records are from Pinus-Quercus forests.
Another species, Lycoperdon marginatum, is frequently found growing amongst L. rimulatum in Europe. L. marginatum seems to share habitat requirements with L. rimulatum but is much more frequent and has a much wider European distribution.
Habitat deterioration due to afforestation and/or overgrowth as a result of a changing land use.
The occurrences in Central Europe are all situated in military areas. This means that they are not normally available to the public and the species is thus difficult to monitor. However, military areas have in many aspects kept their “original” character and have developed into huge refuges of relic habitats. For the survival of Lycoperdon rimulatum in Europe the known growing sites should preferably be declared as nature reserves with management plans ensuring their open and nutrient-poor character. Occurrences should be regularly monitored. Lycoperdon rimulatum may take the rôle of an “umbrella” species, acting as an indicator species for a rare biodiversity hot-spot habitat.
Dedicated search activities in related habitat types in central and eastern Europe could be initiated to get a clearer picture of the status of Lycoperdon rimulatum and may reveal heathland habitats of extreme importance for their biodiversity. The high biodiversity of military training fields should be highlighted in nature conservation.
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