Described as Secotium nubigenum from a collection made in the California, USA mountains, (Harkness 1885). Later made the Type species of the genus Nivatogastrium (Singer & Smith 1959).
Based on micro morphological and phylogenetic data, transferred into the genus Pholiota (Redhead 2014, Siegel et al. 2015).
Pholiota nubigena occurs on conifer debris in high elevation forest in areas with deep winter snowpack. Common in the Sierra Nevada and Cascade Range of California and Oregon, occasional in isolated peaks in the Siskiyou Range, and the northern Rocky Mountains in Idaho.
Under treat due to climate change, and declining snowpacks in the western North American mountains.
High elevation forests in the Sierra Nevada, Siskiyou, Cascade Range in California and Oregon, rare in the Washington Cascade Range, and occasional in the Rocky Mountains in Idaho.
Population is widespread, and locally is can be very common; occurring through high elevation conifer forests with ample winter snowpack in California and Oregon, with scattered locations in Washington and Idaho.
It is confined to high elevation conifer forests. These forests are affected by changing climate; with warmer and drier winters that have elevated and lessened the average snowfall. Stoelinga et al. (2010) state that Cascade Range spring snowpack declined 23% during 1930-2007, and models suggest that the rate of snowpack decline with increase substantially by the end of the century (Rhoades et al. 2018).
This species is likely dependent on mycophagy (primarily eaten by small mammals) for spore dispersal, and thus, dispersal distance is limited.
Population Trend: Decreasing
Solitary or scattered on decaying conifer debris near melting snowbanks in spring and early summer. It has a preference for Fir (Abies spp.) forests in areas with ample winter snowpack. This species is likely dependent on mycophagy (primarily eaten by small mammals) for spore dispersal.
Pholiota nubigena is a common snowbank fungus dependent on thick winter snowpacks to fruit. Snowbank fungi, unique to the western North American mountains, occur in areas with ample snowpack. They fruit in the spring and summer, as the snow melts and recedes. As the climate changes, warmer and drier winters have elevated and lessened the average snowfall. Climate change, continued loss of habitat, decline in area of undisturbed forests, and hotter, stand replacing fires are detrimental to this species.
Snowpack decline in the western North American mountains has been well documented (Mote et al. 2005, Mote et al 2018, Zeng et al. 2018, Stoelinga et al. 2010). Stoelinga et al. (2010) state that Cascade Range spring snowpack declined 23% during 1930-2007, and models suggest that the rate of snowpack decline with increase substantially by the end of the century (Rhoades et al. 2018).
Pholiota nubigena remains a common species in appropriate habitat, under threat due to climate change, and loss of winter snowpack.
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