, Volume 16, Issue 1, pp 1-5
Date: 18 Jan 2007

Fungal biodiversity: what do we know? What can we predict?

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Abstract

Although fungi are among the most important organisms in the world, only limited and incomplete information is currently available for most species and current estimates of species numbers for fungi differ significantly. This lack of basic information on taxonomic diversity has significant implications for many aspects of evolutionary biology. While the figure of 1.5 million estimated fungal species is commonly used, critics have questioned the validity of this estimate. Data on biogeographic distributions, levels of endemism, and host specificity must be taken into account when developing estimates of global fungal diversity. This paper introduces a set of papers that attempt to develop a rigorous, minimum estimate of global fungal diversity based on a critical assessment of current species lists and informed predictions of missing data and levels of endemism. As such, these papers represent both a meta-analysis of current data and a gap assessment to indicate where future research efforts should be concentrated.