Bavarian Forest
National Park

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Tinder fungus on dead beech (Photo: Joachim Hußlein)

Fungi are important organisms in nearly all ecosystems for two reasons. Firstly they are rich in species; according to estimates they are the second most frequent species group on earth after insects. Secondly, fungi are, as a result of their multi-faceted way of life, important for the functioning of the ecosystems. Without mycorrhiza (the symbiotic association of tree and fungi) our trees in the national park could not grow into 50m tall giants; the hyphae of the fungi support in a considerable way the take up of water and nutrients by fir, spruce and beech trees.

Many of the species of fungus in the national park, which form these symbiotic relationships, belong to the group Agaricomycotina (Basidiomycota). This group of fungi has been well researched in the national park. In total around 1300 Agaricomycotina – mushrooms - have been identified within the national park. In addition to the mycorrhiza fungi, there are also many types of fungi that break down wood and litter.

Those species that contribute to the decomposition of wood play a significant role in the national park. Whilst in a commercial forest the wood fungi are consistently deprived of the resource, in the national park they can flourish freely – thanks to wind damage and bark beetle large quantities of dead wood are created that one only finds in primeval forest. It is not surprising then that in the national park species of fungi can be found that have become very rare worldwide. Within Germany some of them can now only be found in the Bavarian Forest National Park.