Ecology and diversity of waxcap (Hygrocybe spp.) fungi

Gareth W. Griffith, Gary L. Easton, Andrew W. Jones

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Members of the genus Hygrocybe are ubiquitous and colourful components of many undisturbed and nutrient-poor grasslands in the UK. Through a number of detailed surveys of the distribution of Hygrocybe spp. and of genera showing similar patterns of occurrence (e.g. Clavaria spp., Entoloma spp., Geoglossum spp.) a picture is gradually emerging of the more important ‘waxcap grassland’ sites, and of those species in greatest need of protection. Waxcap fungi are far from ideal experimental organisms which explains why so little has been published about the biology and ecology. They cannot be cultured on laboratory media and the correct conditions for inducing spores of most species to germinate have yet to be established. Nevertheless approaches such as isotope ratio mass spectrometry and the use of molecular biology techniques are beginning to provide an insight into the role played by these organisms in grassland ecosystems, and why they are so adversely affected by many agricultural practices. Current field experiments at various sites including Sourhope near Kelso will also permit investigations into waxcap ecology to be correlated with parallel studies of other members of the soil biota.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)7-22
Number of pages16
JournalBotanical Journal of Scotland
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2002


  • Ecology
  • diversity
  • Hygrocybe spp.
  • Biodiversity Action Plan


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