Climate Change Causes Earlier Fruiting in Fungi in Norway and the UK

Current climate change has been linked to changes in the phenology of many organisms. There have been many attempts to understand organismal response to certain climatic factors, however, few have been in-depth investigations of fungi. Kauserud et al. (2010) examines which climatic factors are directly related to earlier fruiting, including weather from the preceding year, differences between Norway and UK fruiting, and effects of climate change on the thermal time of the fungi. The results indicate that the differences between the two countries arise from the effects of longitude/latitude and species-specific distinctions. Higher winter temperatures as well as warm and wet summers have a direct relationship with earlier fruiting. There was no clear link found between earlier fruiting and changes in thermal time suggesting that there is no fixed thermal time for fungi. —Daniella Barraza
Kauserud, Havard, E., Heegaard, M. A., Semenov, L., Boddy, R., Halvorsen, L. C., Stige, T. H., Sparks, A. C., Gange, N. C., Stenseth, 2010. Climate change and spring fruiting-fungi. Proc R Soc B 277, 11691177.

Kauserud et al. obtained data for the fungi from the Norwegian Mycology Database and the Fungus Record Database. Climate data were obtained from the Norwegian Meteorological Institute and the Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC). The period set was between the years 1960 through 2007. Statistical analyses were divided into two parts: analysis of spatial and temporal trends and analysis of effects on climate on fruiting day and thermal time. The first analysis was to determine if differences existed between earlier fruiting in Norway and in the UK. Temporal trends were evaluated and compared to longitude and latitude. Species-specific changes were evaluated and compared to average fruiting. Longitude and latitude results reveal a 10.2 % contribution to the variation in early fruiting in Norway and 5.0 % in the UK. The greater percentage in Norway can be attributed to possessing a more heterogeneous climate than the UK. Species-specific effects contribute 11.6 % in Norway and 19.3 % in the UK which can be attributed to a longer spring-fruiting season in the UK. There is a 79.9 and 77.6 % leftover variation that can include climatic factors in Norway and the UK, respectively.
The second analysis examined which climatic factors were causing earlier fruiting and how thermal timing was affected. The results showed that higher winter temperatures led to earlier fruiting. In Norway, an increase of 1°C in January causes earlier fruiting of one day. In the UK, an increase of 1°C in January and February causes earlier fruiting of three days. Summer (July and August) temperature and precipitation play a significant role in the timing of initial fruiting. A warmer and wetter summer causes earlier fruiting. Warm winters will also cause earlier fruiting. However, warm temperatures in October delay initial fruiting.
This analysis also examined changes of thermal time which indicated that spring-fruiting fungi do not have a fixed thermal time. Thermal time is a unit of heat or the sum of the temperatures to determine the stage an organism is during its lifetime. It is a more reliable method to predict an organism’s current situation than a specific date or season. Throughout the period under observation, the thermal time for the fungi was not the same during fruiting. Therefore, there is no relationship between initial fruiting and length of fruiting.
One important question for future research concerning climate change and fungi is the effect earlier fruiting might have on the carbon cycle. The lengthier fruiting of fungi leads to more respiration in the ecosystem than in the past. 

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