Bracket Fungi and Toadstools



Woodlands, both deciduous and conifer, are the chief home of the fungi that have fruiting bodies large enough to support communities of animals, thereby inserting still more side-chains into an already rich system. Passing from mature woods through scrub into meadow, heath, open ground and the various terrestrial maritime communities, and in marshes, one encounters fewer and fewer ‘macro- fungi’ — which for brevity I shall call MFB (Macrofungus Fruiting Body). Some of those that live outside woodland and scrub certainly are inhabited by breeding insects, usually flies, but it is in woods and to a lesser extent scrub and their edges that there is not only a large and constantly renewed supply of cellulose and other materials that would not easily be disposed of by organisms other than fungi, but also a protected climate; though once fungal growth has got established the metabolism of the fungi themselves produces a continual excess of water. It is rather a paradox, though certainly a convenience for distinguishing the edible from the poisonous, that the species of mushroom we in Britain most commonly eat ourselves grows in open pastures. When toadstools are themselves in the later stages of decomposition by bacteria and perhaps moulds, they are usually occupied by many insects, but in this stage the assemblage is more of a concourse than a community, since many of the species are visitors from other habitats that do not have a complete breeding cycle in the fungus.


Dead Wood Animal Community Mature Wood Generative Hypha Skeletal Hypha 
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© Charles S. Elton 1966

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