Gastrosporium simplex is а rare hypogeous species growing in xerothermic grasslands, mainly associated with Stipa, Festuca, Bromus or other grass genera. The habitat and populations has strongly decreased world-wide due to negative factors affecting its habitat. These changes are mainly 1) abandoned grazing 2) hyperintensive grazing pressure and/or 3) ploughing of large areas of steppe ecosystems.
Preliminary assessment on a European scale: NT (A2c+3c+4c) (Near Threatened). On global scale, insufficient distribution data and insufficient data on status of steppe habitat within all areas outside Europe and therefore DD for now.
The decline of this fungus largely due to intensified and expansion of agriculture. Its potential habitat, hence also its population, is estimated to have declined with about 30% during the last 20 years (more considering a longer evaluation period). It is evaluated on 30 years (= 3 generations according to the recommendations of Dahlberg & Mueller 2011 for soil and litter inhabiting non-mycorrhizal fungi).
Leucorhizon nidificum Velen. (1925)
Calvatia defodiodis Lloyd (1913)
Disciseda defodiodis (Lloyd) Zeller (1947)
A closely related species, Gastrosporium asiaticum, has been reported from Mongolia. It differs from G. simplex in the structure of the peridium, but is so far only reported from its type locality (a steppe habitat). Its taxonomic status needs to be confirmed with molecular methods.
Eurasia and a few finds in North America (W. Canada and U.S.) and South America (Argentina). Recent findings in Yakutia (Russian Federation).
The species has a wide distribution area but is nowhere common. The species distribution area and abundance is heavily influenced and decreasing because of change of land managment, such as ploughing, ceased grazing and micro disturbance but also caused by overgrazing followed by serious erosion. The tendancy is that the occurences also gets more and more fragmented, esp at the edges of its distribution due to population losses.
Population Trend: Decreasing
Saprotrophic/parasitic or mycorrhizal fungus, associated with Stipa spp. and other xerophytic Poaceae in arid and steppe-like environments. It mainly grows in dry sandy or sometimes rocky, xerophytic grasslands, in open exposed places on soil developed from gypsum and limestone as well as on sandy loam rich in calcium. In central Europe found in relic steppe and calcareous dry grassland habitats. Fruiting bodies are hypogeous, appearing at the soil surface at maturity and thus favoured by soil disturbance (wind erosion, trampling, animal digging (eg Citellus – ground squirrel) etc). Dispersal is by wind, both as spores but also of whole fruiting bodies being displaced by rough weather situations.
Threats differs in different areas. In European and W. Asian part of distribution mainly because of large steppe areas have been transformed into agricultural areas and have been ploughed up. In other parts, mainly Asia the grazing preassure is sometimes too heavy causing changes and degradation of habitats. The decline is difficult to evaluate in different areas, in some countries probably exceeding 50%, in others maybe less. On the average we suspect at least 15-30% decrease of suitable steppe habitats on a global scale over 3 generation-times (at least 25y but generation time unknown and might be much longer).
Conservation of known localities, monitoring of the habitat status and populations. Organization of Important Fungal Areas with a highly protected status or other legal protection of localities and suitable habitats.
Search for new localities, clarifying of ecological preferences and threats; determination of the optimal way of the protection and managment of steppe ecosystems.
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