Fungal Conservation Genetics

Effects of forest fragmentation on genetic diversity in dead-wood dependent fungi in space and time.

Photo: Sundy Maurice

About the project

The boreal forest landscape in Fennoscandia has undergone dramatic changes during the last 150 years, as intensive forest management and short rotation times have led to the loss and fragmentation of natural forests which in turn resulted in biodiversity decline. Natural forests have become few and fragmented, and their distribution across Fennoscandia is scattered and unbalanced. This transformation has led to a decline in species and populations restricted to natural-like forests. The loss of species is well studied, however, much less is known about how forest loss and fragmentation have affected genetic variation within species. Within-species genetic diversity represents a more basic diversity component. It is important to be aware of whether populations are losing genetic variation and at which rate.


FunGen project focusses on wood-decay fungi of boreal forests, a group of organisms providing important ecosystem services, such as nutrient cycling. For these species, reduced genetic variation may mean impaired success at different life-history stages, such as decreased fruiting rate, spore production, spore viability and stress tolerance, establishment rate, growth rate and competitive ability. Lower level of genetic variation may also mean poor ability to adapt in the changing climate. In this project we investigate how forest fragmentation has influenced genetic variation within wood-decay fungi.


The project is organised in 4 main sub-projects: 

  •  Spatiotemporal distribution of genetic variation across Fennoscandia

  • Genetic variation in isolated versus well-connected forests

  •  Aerial fungal diversity in isolated versus well-connected forests

  •  Restoration of fungal populations in fragmented landscapes


Our conclusions are likely to hold not only for dead-wood dependent fungi, but we may expect similar trends in other organisms with similar or poorer dispersal capacities and similar pressures on their habitats. Re-introducing threatened fungal species to forests where they no longer occur because of dispersal limitation is potentially a very efficient way to preserve species diversity and genetic diversity. We will test the success of species restoration in fungi and provide guidelines and recommendations.
This project will increase our knowledge about how fungi have been affected genetically by forest loss and fragmentation and contribute to the knowledge base for management and conservation related decision-making. We will also investigate whether locally or regionally extinct red-listed species can be re-introduced to their former habitats that are situated beyond the usual dispersal distance range from the existing subpopulations.


 Sundy Maurice is the researcher in charge of FunGen. 


Research Council of Norway (RCN) 2016-2019 


By liaising researchers from Norway and Sweden and gathering data at a Fennoscandian scale, this project will greatly facilitate knowledge transfer within Scandinavia and also open the horizon for setting up new collaborations which will promote the 2020 vision of the European Research Area. 

- Norwegian Institute for Nature Research (NINA): Dr. Jenni Nordén and Dr. Megan Nowell

- Norwegian Institute of Bioeconomy Research (NIBIO): Dr. Einar Heegaard

- Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences (SLU): Tord Snäll and Lars Ostlund


RAD sequencing, Whole genome sequencing, polypore, Demography analysis, Coalescent theory 

Tags: Fungi, sopp, skog, forest, miljø, demography analysis, RAD sequencing
Published Dec. 6, 2016 1:05 PM - Last modified Oct. 15, 2019 12:17 PM


Project leader: 

Sundy Maurice



Detailed list of participants