Macrofungi of Costa Rica

Roy Halling and collaborators

Macrofungi play a vital role in nutrient cycling, nutrient uptake, and decomposition of organic matter in forest and grasslands. Information on the diversity, systematics, and biogeography of these fungi, however, is fragmentary, and additional surveys in most areas of the world, especially tropical regions, are critically needed. Costa Rica has proven to be an ideal site to obtain some essential data on the composition, species distribution, and host specificity of these fungi in the neotropics. A multi-year project started in 1992 to survey the mushrooms and their relatives (Agaricales) that occur in montane Quercus forests of central and southern Costa Rica. The initial survey documented high diversity, limited geographic ranges, and numerous new species. An intensive inventory of the macrofungi (i.e., mushrooms, boletes, puffballs, bracket fungi, etc.) of Costa Rica began a few years later to document the diversity of Neotropical macrofungi to further our understanding of their biology and to include them in forest management plans and conservation activities. This began as a collaborative project between Gregory Mueller (Field Museum of Natural History), Roy Halling (New York Botanical Garden), with Julieta Carranza (Universidad de Costa Rica). Data have proven valuable for understanding the systematics, biogeography, and ecology of macrofungi and have provided important information for understanding the formation and maintenance of forest communities. The information has added significantly to our knowledge of Neotropical mycology and is available for subsequent studies on the ecology and systematics of macrofungi by the collaborators and the rest of the mycological community. Finally, because of the intimate relationship between macrofungi and forest trees, these data will add substantially to the growing database on neotropical forest communities.

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