Unraveling environmental drivers of a recent increase in Swiss fungi fruiting


Correspondence : Ulf Büntgen, tel. +41 44 739 2679, fax +41 44 739 2215, e-mail:


Disentangling biotic and abiotic drivers of wild mushroom fruiting is fraught with difficulties because mycelial growth is hidden belowground, symbiotic and saprotrophic supply strategies may interact, and myco-ecological observations are often either discontinuous or too short. Here, we compiled and analyzed 115 417 weekly fungal fruit body counts from permanent Swiss inventories between 1975 and 2006. Mushroom fruiting exhibited an average autumnal delay of 12 days after 1991 compared with before, the annual number of fruit bodies increased from 1801 to 5414 and the mean species richness doubled from 10 to 20. Intra- and interannual coherency of symbiotic and saprotrophic mushroom fruiting, together with little agreement between mycorrhizal yield and tree growth suggests direct climate controls on fruit body formation of both nutritional modes. Our results contradict a previously reported declining of mushroom harvests and propose rethinking the conceptual role of symbiotic pathways in fungi-host interaction. Moreover, this conceptual advancement may foster new cross-disciplinary research avenues, and stimulate questions about possible amplifications of the global carbon cycle, as enhanced fungal production in moist mid-latitude forests rises carbon cycling and thus increases greenhouse gas exchanges between terrestrial ecosystems and the atmosphere.