The importance of timing and number of surveys in fungal biodiversity research
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- Halme, P. & Kotiaho, J.S. Biodivers Conserv (2012) 21: 205. doi:10.1007/s10531-011-0176-z
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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.