Biodiversity and Conservation

, Volume 21, Issue 1, pp 205–219 | Cite as

The importance of timing and number of surveys in fungal biodiversity research

  • Panu Halme
  • Janne S. Kotiaho
Original Paper


Practical conservation of biological diversity is dependent on reliable knowledge about what kind, how much, and where the diversity is. To obtain such knowledge three questions, why, what, and how, must be answered before commencing any biodiversity survey. While the questions why and what are often value decisions and thus determined outside the realm of scientific research, the question about how the surveys are conducted lies in the heart of science. Here, we report an intensive repeated survey of wood-inhabiting fungi with the aim of determining the optimal timing and number of the surveys for reliable estimation of the diversity of this species group. The research focusing on the ecology of wood-inhabiting fungi has been increasing but little is known about the reliability of the methods. The variation in the estimates of diversity among surveys was high and the results varied between studied species groups. The site-scale detectability for species belonging to different groups varied from 10 to 95% depending on the survey month and the species group. We conclude that because detectability of many fungi turned out to be poor even when surveys were conducted at an optimal time, the common practice of using a single fruit body survey to estimate fungal diversity of any given area is not enough. We suggest that multiple surveys at an optimal time should be a norm in fungal diversity studies. Improper methodology results in unreliable outcomes that have potential to hamper our goal of conserving the biological diversity.


Agarics Biodiversity Inventories Corticioids Detection probability Monitoring Polypores Saproxylic Seasonality Wood-decaying fungi 



Panu Kunttu was importantly involved in the planning of this study. We thank Atte Komonen, Asko Lõhmus, Jacob Heilmann-Clausen, Jari Kouki, Claudia Perini, an anonymous reviewer and the “Journal club” members for constructive comments on the manuscript. Especially Noora Vartija but also Sini Eräjää, Katja Juutilainen, Emmi Lehkonen, Anni Markkanen, Anna Mäkelä, Kristiina Nyholm, and Katriina Peltonen assisted in the field work. Heikki Kotiranta, Seppo Huhtinen, Tuomo Niemelä, Lasse Kosonen, Unto Söderholm, Tea von Bonsdorff, Ilkka Kytövuori, Matti Kulju, Anni Markkanen and Katja Juutilainen all identified some difficult samples and were thus of priceless help during the work. This research was funded by Koneen säätiö foundation and the Centre of Excellence in Evolutionary Research.

Supplementary material

10531_2011_176_MOESM1_ESM.doc (302 kb)
Supplementary material 1 (DOC 301 kb)
10531_2011_176_MOESM2_ESM.doc (36 kb)
Supplementary material 2 (DOC 36 kb)


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2011

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Centre of Excellence in Evolutionary Research, Department of Biological and Environmental ScienceUniversity of JyväskyläJyväskyläFinland
  2. 2.Natural History MuseumUniversity of JyväskyläJyväskyläFinland

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