What are fungi?
Fungi are largely unseen heroes of woodland. They are nature’s recyclers, breaking down dead plants and animals and releasing nutrients to be used again; others grow in and around tree roots, helping them access nutrients and water, protecting them from harmful fungi and creating communication channels between trees. Some also cause diseases of plants and sometimes animals, a natural part of healthy ecosystems.
What do they look like?
You can’t usually see most of a fungus – the mushrooms and brackets, often seen in Autumn, are just the reproductive structures; the “work” is done by a network of fungal threads called mycelium which grows within dead wood, soil or tree roots.
The photos on this page are just some examples of what the fruiting bodies of the non-poisonous Oyster Mushroom (Pleurotus ostreatus) might look like. (Photographs taken by Ann Miller).
Why do they need monitoring?
Climate change is affecting when fungi reproduce, with mushrooms turning up at different times of year; this may mean that the mycelium, which we can’t see, is also working differently.
What's happening at Wytham Woods?
We’re trialling a new method to gain a greater understanding of how one common species of fungus could respond to climate change. These logs have been colonised with the non-poisonous Oyster Mushroom. Around the logs are temperature and moisture sensors. We’re asking you to get involved and take photos of the logs so that we can track when the fungus is visible, and when it’s not. We’ll link this up with our microclimate data to look for patterns.