Monotypic genus, phylogenetically in Phallales. Described from New Zealand in 1926, and considered endemic until reported from the Australian island state of Tasmania in 1997. Mills et al. (1997) noted some morphological differences in Tasmanian specimens from descriptions of New Zealand material. No detailed comparison, morphological or molecular, has been made to test conspecificity of material from New Zealand and Tasmania. Macro-morphology of fruit-bodies indicate very close similarity.
Saprotrophic fungus of wet forests with either Eucalyptus, Nothofagus, and/or Kunzea in Tasmania (Australia) and New Zealand. Single species in the genus Claustula. The number of known locations is six in Tasmania and two in New Zealand, based on both fungarium collections and observational records. In Australia, the species has been a target species of the Fungimap recording scheme since the mid 1990s. In Tasmania, nearly all records of C. fischeri are by one team of recorders, who have carried out intensive surveys across the state, and in particular in the known distribution of this species.
In New Zealand, Claustula fischeri is classified as Nationally Critical under the New Zealand Department of Conservation Threat Classification System.
Using IUCN assessment criteria and following recommendations by Dahlberg & Mueller (2011), the species is assessed as Endangered under B. Geographic Range for both B1 Extent of occurrence (Tasmania 1500 km2 & New Zealand 200 km2) and B2 Area of occupancy (Tasmania 32 km2 and New Zealand 8 km2) along with meeting the subcriteria (a) Severely fragmented. Also, in the two largest populations at Mt Wellington (adjacent to suburban Hobart city, Tasmania) and Fringed Hill (outskirts of Nelson city, New Zealand) there are factors leading to continued decline in (iii) quality of the habitat, in particular habitat degradation by Mountain Bike usage in New Zealand in the direct vicinity of the known site, as well as increasing recreational usage of both main sites due to proximity to urban areas.
The species is also assessed as Endangered under D Very small or restricted population, D1 number mature individuals, estimated as 135, based on 18 known individuals, increased by 50% to allow for undetected individuals, so 27 functional individuals, and then using a 5x multiplier to convert to mature individuals. Recorders state that sightings always consist of single or very small clusters of fruit-bodies within a wide area that has been surveyed.
The island state of Tasmania, Australia (6 locations - all in a very small region to the east and west of the capital city, Hobart) and the South Island of New Zealand (2 locations). No records of the genus outside of Tasmania and New Zealand. Australian records are from the Fungimap database, accessed via the Atlas of Living Australia (http://bie.ala.org.au/species/Claustula+fischeri). There are 59 records from Australia in the ALA, but many are duplicates. Fungimap is a mapping scheme for Australian fungi, and Claustula has been a specific target of the scheme since the late 1990s. Claustula fischeri was included in the guide to Fungimap target species, Fungi Down Under, published in 2005, so there has been good information available about the species and its potential habitats over the last decade - but still very few sites reported. See also Buchanan & May (2003).
Fragmented populations, with disjunct distribution (Tasmania and New Zealand). Habitat vulnerable to damage by recreational use due to proximity to urban centres of population, and outdoor recreational activity. The habitat of some locations near Hobart, Tasmania, is protected by Hobart City Council’s “Mountain Park” status. The main location in New Zealand, near Nelson, is threatened by further development of mountain bike trails, and Nelson City Council is seeking ways to minimise impact on Claustula by modifying proposed trail routes.
Population Trend: Decreasing
In Tasmania, mostly recorded in Eucalyptus forest, sometimes mixed with Nothofagaceae. In New Zealand, in forests dominated by Nothofagaceae (southern beech) and/or Kunzea (tea tree). Ecologically assumed to be saprobic in common with related taxa in Phallales. Spore dispersal mechanism unknown, but bird dispersal postulated (Beever 1999)
Leisure activities (mountain biking, walking, dogs) in known locations
Lack of legal habitat protection
Severe weather event destroying forest habitat
Encroaching exotic forestry
Species is listed with New Zealand’s Department of Conservation as “Nationally Critical” (highest threat category) but with no legal protection. Mycologists met with Nelson City Council representative in May 2014 to discuss minimising habitat degradation from proposed mountain bike trail construction at the best known location of C. fischeri in New Zealand; concerns were met with a positive reception.
Molecular comparison to test conspecificity of populations in New Zealand and Tasmania, strongly suggested by macromorphology comparisons.
Confirmation of range of host trees and the ecological relationship in NZ and Tasmania
Define and better clarify impacts of threats
Investigate ex situ conservation of species in case habitat destroyed
Beever RE 1999. Dispersal of New Zealand sequestrate fungi. Abstracts p. 190, 9th International Congress of Mycology, Sydney, 16-20 August 1999.
Buchanan, PK.; May, T.W. 2003. Conservation of New Zealand and Australian fungi. New Zealand Journal of Botany 41: 407-421.
Curtis, K.M. 1926: The morphology of Claustula fischeri, gen. et sp. nov. A new genus of phalloid affinity. Annals of Botany 40: 476 (471-477)
Cunningham, G.H. 1931: The Gasteromycetes of Australasia. XI. The Phallales, part II. Proceedings of the Linnean Society of New South Wales 56(3): 182-200.
Dahlberg A, Mueller GM, 2011. Applying IUCN red-listing criteria for assessing and reporting on the conservation status of fungal species. Fungal Ecology 4: 147-162.
Gates, G. & Ratkowsky, D. 2014. A Field Guide to Tasmanian Fungi. Tasmanian Field Naturalists Club, Taroona.
Grey, P. and Grey, E. 2005. Fungi Down Under. Fungimap, South Yarra.
Mills, AK and May, TW and Fuhrer, BA and Ratkowsky, DA and Ratkowsky, AV, Claustula: The Forgotten Phalloid, Mycologist, 11, (1) pp. 31-36. ISSN 0269-915X (1997)