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Poronia punctata (L.) Fr.

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Scientific name
Poronia punctata
(L.) Fr.
Common names
porónia bodkovaná
Täpiline jalgnööbik
Grote speldenprikzwam
trusovka tečkovaná
Löcherscheibe, Großsporige Porenscheibe, Rossapfelkernpilz
Nail Fungus
Punktainā poronija
IUCN Specialist Group
Cup-fungi, Truffles and Allies
Assessment status
Assessment date
IUCN Red List Category
Persiani, A.M. & Ainsworth, A.M.
Mueller, G.M., Iršėnaitė, R., Krisai-Greilhuber, I., Mešić, A., Perini, C., Dahlberg, A. & Minter, D.

Assessment Notes

The content on this page is fetched from The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species: https://www.iucnredlist.org/species/58517228/185715679


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 whilst there was 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 that it may be threatened by the use of antibiotics as food additives for veterinary applications, as well as pesticide contamination which impacts on plant and insect species related with the fungal habitat and favouring fungal development and reproduction.

The documented historical decline took place over a long period of time. The range covers different places in different continents (Europe, Asia, America, Africa and Australia) all over the world.

However, the decline has largely ceased, and it is thought that the population has been relatively stable for at least the past ten years. As a species with a short generation length, assessment under criterion A would measure population reduction over ten years. The population size is too large for it to be considered threatened under Criteria D.

As a result, it is assessed as Least Concern. Its risk of global extinction is currently low despite the magnitude of its past population decline and its local extinctions. However, it is still of conservation concern and if the use of horse medication continues to increase and thereby cause the decline to restart, then it may quickly move towards a threatened category.

Geographic range

This species has a very wide distribution, in Africa, Europe, Asia, North, Central and South America and the Caribbean, and Australasia. It is recorded up to 3,550 m. It is probably an introduction to the Caribbean (Richardson 2008) and, possibly, other places which the natural distribution of equids does not reach.

Population and Trends

Poronia punctata has had a significant decline from its historic levels, and is now considered rare in much of its range. This decline largely occurred during the twentieth century, differing in timing throughout its range depending on when the switch from horse powered agriculture and transport shifted mainly to mechanical. In some countries (e.g. Austria and Finland) it is now Extinct. However, the total population is now thought to be stable and perhaps increasing in some parts of Europe (e.g. U.K. and parts of Sweden) and elsewhere, as horses are now increasingly being used for conservation management purposes. However it should be noted that the extant population levels are still much lower than historically reported.

Poronia 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.). In 1977, Dennis 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 was reported in 1999 for the first time (Matočec 2000). Poronia punctata has been reported in Poland in 2010 after a century of lacking documented occurrences (Szczepkowski and Obidziński 2016), and it has been recently rediscovered at two sites in Denmark (Heilmann-Clausen pers. comm.) and in Italy (Granito and Lunghini 2006, Ravera et al. 2017, Venturella and Saitta 2009, Venturella et al. 2011, Zuccherelli et al. 2001). Poronia 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, Mirek et al. 2006, 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, Pontifical Catholic University of Ecuador BIOWEB 2016, British Mycological Society FRDBI 2019, Discover Life 2019, FinBIF 2018, iNaturalist 2019, NBN 2018, NMV 2019, Artsdatabanken 2016, Gbif 2019, Svampeatlas 2.0 2019). It has been reported worldwide in many countries: India (Thulasinathan et al. 2018), USA (Angel and Wlcklow 1983), Mexico (Méndez-Mayboca et al. 2008), Argentina (Medina et al. 2016), Russia (in several regions) (Benua and Karpova-Benua 1983, iNaturalist 2019, Karakulin and Lobik 1915, Thümen 1877, Tomilin 1963), Morocco (N’Douba et al. 2013), China, Puerto Rico and Kyrgyzstan (Kirgizia) (Faiture and Otto 2015). Poronia punctata is also reported in other countries in Europe and worldwide as reported in other publications (e.g. Doveri 2011 and references within).

Population Trend: decreasing

Habitat and Ecology

Poronia punctata is a coprophilous fungus, found typically on older dung of horses and other equines (ponies, donkeys, mules) and, to a lesser extent, on that of cows (Matočec 2000, Minter 2006, Bignell and King 2011, Edwards 2015), 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 favourable 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).


Threats to this species include the reduction of natural grazing of equines and other domestic animals, 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

Conservation actions for P. punctata should: (1) support 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 (DERC 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. It is listed on many national Red Lists in Europe. One effect of this 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 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.

Use and Trade

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).

Source and Citation

Persiani, A.M. & Ainsworth, A.M. 2020. Poronia punctata. The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species 2020: e.T58517228A185715679. https://dx.doi.org/10.2305/IUCN.UK.2020-3.RLTS.T58517228A185715679.en .Downloaded on 30 January 2021

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