So what do you know about biodiversity in Wodonga?
As part of the lead up to World Environment Day on June 5, our Natural Resources Planner Claire Coulson takes a look at bioversity and in particular – fungi.
We all know about flora and fauna, but what about fungi?
Not a plant. Not an animal. But scientists estimate that 25 per cent of the world’s living matter is fungal.
“In Wodonga, a wet and sunny autumn has produced an abundance of fungi,” she said.
You may have seen fungi or ‘mushrooms’ in your yard, nature strip or local park.
But what you see above the ground is just the tip of the iceberg.
The mushrooms or toadstools you see are just the fruiting part of a much large living organism.
Most of the fungi is actually underground, a network of microscopic root like structures that can extend as far as five kilometres.
The fungal network or mycelium can grow and spread throughout the soil or wrap around plant roots.
They break down dead material, keep soils stable after fire, help plants access nutrients and fight off disease, are essential for agricultural production, are used in medicine, as hallucinogens, they are a food source for people and animals, some are poisonous and have been regarded with suspicion and awe for thousands of years.
A recent estimate of global fungal diversity is 2.2 to 3.8 million species. Just 80,000 species have been studied and described.