R-L categories correct, but text here does not match final assessment. Updated version will be published in IUCN´s Red List June or Nov 2019.
Poronia punctata is a coprophilous fungal species mainly associated with horse dung whose substantial population decline has been observed during the last century. In fact, it used to be commonly found in the past for the intense use of horses and other equines for human activities. The decline in equine (horse and pony) populations and the reduction of natural grazing conditions can be assumed as the main driving forces causing fungal population decline. Moreover, it is also possible include the use of antibiotics as food additives for veterinary applications, as well as pesticide contamination which impact on plant and insect species related with the fungal habitat and favoring fungal development and reproduction.
The documented historical decline took place in a long period of time. The range covers different places in different continents (Europe, Asia, America, Africa and Australia) all over the world. Both range and population size are too large. The decline of population is thought to be not continuous.
P. punctata qualifies as vulnerable (VU) under B2 b(iii) and c(iii) criteria, because of its area of occupancy (value between 1000 and 2000 Km2) and extreme fluctuations in number of locations and subpopulations.
Need to be revisited, possibly NT (if ongoing decline) else LC.
AFRICA: Morocco, South Africa. ASIA: China, Mongolia, Kyrgyzstan, India, Russia (Karachay-Cherkess, Buryatia, Irkutsk Oblast), Turkmenistan. CARIBBEAN: Puerto Rico. CENTRAL AMERICA: Costa Rica. EUROPE: Austria, Belgium, Croatia, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Italy, Latvia, Lithuania, Macedonia, Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Slovakia, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, U.K., Ukraine. NORTH AMERICA: Canada, Mexico, U.S.A. (Arizona, Colorado, Kansas, Louisiana, Illinois, ). SOUTH AMERICA: Argentina, Brazil, Ecuador, French Guiana, Venezuela. OCEANIA: Australia. Altitudinal records up to 3550 m.
P. punctata was described by García Bona (1978) as occurring with some frequency in Spain in the mid-1970s, and it has been recently reported by Vidale et al. (2015) and Merino (2017) (Merino, 2017; Vidale et al.). Dennis (1977) was already pointing out that the species had become extremely rare in the UK . In recent times it has been observed and studied in some sites of New Forest and in southern parts of UK (e.g. Dorset and Norfolk), reporting important findings on fungal biology and conservation (Bignell and King, 2011; Cox et al., 2005; Edwards, 2015; Edwards et al., 2015). In Dalmatia (Croatia), it has been reported in 1999 for the first time (Matočec, 2000). P. punctata has been reported in Poland in 2010 after a century of lacking documented occurrences (Szczepkowski and Obidziński, 2016) and in Italy (Granito and Lunghini, 2006; Ravera et al., 2017; Venturella and Saitta, 2009; Venturella et al., 2011; Zuccherelli et al., 2001). P. punctata has been proposed or included in National Red Lists of many European countries (Gyosheva et al., 2006; Kajevska et al., 2019; Karadelev and Rusevska, 2017; Koszka, 2008; Rossi et al., 2013; Szczepkowski and Obidziński, 2016). Data on population size and, in some cases, population trends are available on online databases (Atlas grzybów Polski 2019; BIOWEB Equador 2019; DGfM 2019; Discover Life 2019; FinBIF 2019; FRDBI 2019; iNaturalist 2019; NBN Atlas 2019; NMV 2019; NBIC 2019; NYBG 2019; Occdownload Gbif.Org, 2019; Svampeatlas 2.0 2019) . It has been reported worldwide in different countries: India (Thulasinathan et al., 2018), USA (Angel and Wlcklow, 1983), Mexico (Méndez-Mayboca et al., 2008), Argentina (Medina et al., 2016), Russia (in different regions) (iNaturalist 2019), Marocco (N’Douba et al., 2013), China, Puerto Rico and Kyrgyzstan (Kirgizia) (Faiture and Otto, 2015). P. punctata is also reported in other countries in Europe and in the world as reported in other publications (e.g. Doveri, 2011 and references within). Total population is believed to increase in some parts of the Europe (e.g. U.K.) and world, due to the increasing numbers of horses, although from a very small size compared to the historic level.
Population Trend: Decreasing
Poronia punctata is a coprophilous fungus, found typically on older dung of horses and other equines (ponies, donckeys, mules) and, to a lesser extent, on cows (Bignell and King, 2011; Edwards, 2015; Matočec, 2000), sheep and elephants (Szczepkowski and Obidziński, 2016). In one study of cattle dung in semi-arid ecosystems of Colorado, ascomata only appeared on older cow pats (18 to 54 months old), leading this fungus to be described as a “late colonist” of herbivore dung (Wicklow and Hirschfield, 1979). Like many other dung fungi, ascospores of P. punctata are thought to germinate only after passing through the digestive tract of an herbivore (Edwards et al., 2015). The environmental conditions of fruiting (e.g. temperature, water content, nutrients), the features of dungs, the habitat have been investigated (Bignell and King, 2011; Edwards, 2015; Matočec, 2000). A multiple-factor interaction is essential for fungal fruiting, including type and height of vegetation, creating favorable microclimatic conditions, and the presence of insects (especially dung beetles) for improving the rate of dung decay and aeration and supporting fungal growth and reproduction (Edwards, 2015). Poronia punctata has a complex life cycle, which includes an anamorphic state (Edwards, 2015; Granito and Lunghini, 2006; Stiers et al., 1973). P. punctata has similar morphological features of P. erici. The macroscopic analysis of the ascomata and the microscopic analysis of spores are advised to avoid misidentification among species of the same genus (Granito and Lunghini, 2006; Matočec, 2000; Szczepkowski and Obidziński, 2016).
The reduction of natural grazing of equines and other domestic animals (e.g. cows, sheep), the reduction of their populations, the reduction or loss of typical semi-natural habitats for P. punctata (e.g. mesotrophic grazed grasslands, acidophilous heathlands, grazing marshes, xerothermic grasslands and dry pastures), the use of agrochemicals and pesticides (impacting on vegetation and insects, which support fungal development and reproduction), and veterinary additives (especially antibiotics affecting fungal dung colonization)(Wicklow and Hirschfield, 1979).
Conservation actions for P. punctata should (1) support the horse breeding under natural conditions, keeping the traditional grazing with agricultural/environmental supporting programs (2) support the related agricultural activities (3) protect the semi-natural habitats, where P. punctata lives, including plant and insect species. Efforts to promote populations of this species through re-introduction of pony grazing on sites in southern England has met some success with a report of the species recolonizing two areas of heathland in Dorset (Dorset Environmental Records Centre 2019), and other reports of apparently new stations for the species in Hampshire, Surrey and even London. In Dorset, this fungus is now being closely monitored (Cox et al., 2005). The species now appears in several local biodiversity action plans in England and Wales. In southern England, forays specifically to find other stations for this rare species have been organized by amateurs, and the status of the species is now even being monitored on sites managed by the UK Ministry of Defence. Another effect of red listing has been that conservationists have reported other places in Europe where the fungus still occurs, for example Croatia, and have argued that “any locality in which the species still occurs should be designated a locality of major biodiversity importance” (Matočec, 2000). In Poland, the rediscovery of the P. punctata after a century has highlighted the importance of environmental monitoring of the fungal species and the traditional grazing practices (Szczepkowski and Obidziński, 2016)
The biology and ecology of the P. punctata, in particular the fruiting conditions, should be more investigated in relationship with vegetation, insects, animal hosts and the complexity of environmental conditions. A well programmed environmental monitoring should be organized and performed to better study and control population size and trends. Traditional grazing practices should be more studied in relationship with environmental sustainability and fungal ecology.
The isolation of punctaporonins and other bioactive compounds from P. punctata confirmed its aggressive attitude to competition, able to inhibit growth of potential competitors (Anderson et al., 1984; Edwards et al., 1989; Gloer et al., 1988; Poyser, 1986). The use of these compounds may be of interest for pharmaceutical industry (Granito and Lunghini, 2006).
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