Blumenavia crucis-hellenicae is an endemic species from Brazil, occurring in fragments of Atlantic Forest in the Southern region. It is a rare species, with only a few records from three different sites. The current total population is estimated at 3,600-5,400 mature individuals, in one subpopulation. Based on the habitat decline within the area, we suspect a population decline around 10% in the last three generations (20 years). Blumenavia crucis-hellenicae is assessed as Vulnerable VU C1+2a(ii).
Blumenavia crucis-hellenicae was proposed as a new species by G. Coelho, Sulzbacher, Grebenc & Cortez in 2020 (Melanda et al., 2020). Synonyms for the species are not known. Specimens from Brazil were previously erroneously identified as Blumenavia angolensis (Welw. & Curr.) Dring, an African species (Trierveiler-Pereira et al., 2014; 2019).
Blumenavia crucis-hellenicae is a rare, endemic species from Southern Brazil, occurring in some fragments of Atlantic Forest, one of the Earth’s biodiversity hotspots with high levels of diversity and endemism.
Blumenavia crucis-hellenicae is known from well preserved fragments of Atlantic Forest in Southern Brazil (Araucaria Mixed Forest and Dense Ombrophilous Forest). The species was first recorded from the State of Paraná and, some years later, it was collected in the State of Santa Catarina (Meijer, 2006; Trierveiler-Pereira et al., 2014; Melanda et al., 2020). Later, four specimens were collected in the same locality (São Francisco de Paula) in the State of Rio Grande do Sul (Trierveiler-Pereira et al., 2014; Melanda et al., 2020). The species is expected to occur in fragments of subtropical Araucaria Mixed Forest and Dense Ombrophilous Forest in Southern Brazil.
There are seven collections of the species from three different sites. It is a rarely found species, and it is expected to occur along the subtropical Araucaria Mixed Forest and Dense Ombrophilous Forest, with occurrences up to 200-300 additional potential sites. Its population is estimated ca. 3,600-5,400 mature individuals, restricted to one subpopulation.
The Atlantic Forest has been deforested over decades, and the remaining fragments are suffering from biomass and biodiversity erosion. The Atlantic Forest is one of the most fragmented tropical/subtropical forests in the world, and only around 28% percent of the original forest in Brazil is left, much of it in small, unconnected fragments (Rezende et al., 2018).
Population decline was estimated in light of extensive loss of suitable habitat (Rezende et al., 2018) and the putative influence that habitat degradation has on species occupation in a given environment (Berglund & Jonsson, 2003; Haddad et al., 2015). Based on this information, we precautionarily assume there has been a habitat loss of at least 10% within the past three generations (20 years) and that this also equates to a population decline of the fungus of at least 10% or more within this timeframe.
Population Trend: Decreasing
Blumenavia crucis-hellenicae is characterized as a solitary species occurring in preserved fragments of the subtropical Atlantic Forest (Araucaria Mixed Forest and Dense Ombrophilous Forest). It is saprotrophic and grows on decaying wood and litter. The species is not difficult to recognize in the field, being highly detectable since its white basidiomes contrast with the litterfall (Trierveiler-Pereira et al., 2014). Since the species occurs on wood debris or litterfall, we estimate that three generations = 20 years.
The extraction of timber, intensive land use including tourism, urban expansion, industrialization and fuelwood harvesting are some of the reasons for deforestation in the Atlantic Forest. Only 28% of its natural coverage remains, largely composed of small forest fragments and secondary forests (Tabarelli et al., 2010; Rezende et al., 2018). Changing temperature and rainfall is causing habitat shifts and alteration. These factors are the biggest threat to the Blumenavia crucis-hellenicae, impacting directly on its habitat and life.
The main action to preserve the species is the protection of its habitat and creation of new conservation areas to harbor the probable microhabitats to which the Atlantic Forest may be restricted in the future. The preservation of pristine forests could be critical for the maintenance of this species, since it has only been found in preserved areas. Also, forest protection policies must be taken to assure that the protected Atlantic Forest areas reach a mature state.
More studies are necessary to better understand the species distribution and ecology and population trends.
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Haddad NM, Brudvig LA, Clobert J et al. 2015. Habitat fragmentation and its lasting impact on Earth’s ecosystems. Science Advances 1: e1500052.
Meijer AAR. 2006. Preliminary list of the macromycetes from the Brazilian state of Paraná. Boletim do Museu Botânico Municipal de Curitiba 68: 1–55.
Melanda GCS, Accioly T, Ferreira RJ, Rodrigues ACM, Cabral TS, Coelho G, et al. 2020. Diversity trapped in cages: Revision of Blumenavia Möller (Clathraceae, Basidiomycota) reveals three hidden species. PLoS ONE 15(5): e0232467.
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