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Predicting species-specific responses of fungi to climatic variation using historical records


Correspondence: Jeffrey M. Diez, tel. +41 44 632 9883, fax +41 44 632 1271, e-mail:


Although striking changes have been documented in plant and animal phenology over the past century, less is known about how the fungal kingdom's phenology has been changing. A few recent studies have documented changes in fungal fruiting in Europe in the last few decades, but the geographic and taxonomic extent of these changes, the mechanisms behind these changes, and their relationships to climate are not well understood. Here, we analyzed herbarium data of 274 species of fungi from Michigan to test the hypotheses that fruiting times of fungi depend on annual climate and that responses depend on taxonomic and functional groups. We show that the fungal community overall fruits later in warmer and drier years, which has led to a shift toward later fruiting dates for autumn-fruiting species, consistent with existing evidence. However, we also show that these effects are highly variable among species and are partly explained by basic life-history characteristics. Resulting differences in climate sensitivities are expected to affect community structure as climate changes. This study provides a unique picture of the climate dependence of fungal phenology in North America and an approach for quantifying how individual species and broader fungal communities will respond to ongoing climate change.