A fungal perspective on conservation biology

Hitherto fungi have rarely been considered in conservation biology, but this is changing as the field moves from addressing single species issues to an integrative ecosystem-based approach. The current emphasis on biodiversity as a provider of ecosystem services throws the spotlight on the vast diversity of fungi, their crucial roles in terrestrial ecosystems, and the benefits of considering fungi in concert with animals and plants. We reviewed the role of fungi in ecosystems and composed an overview of the current state of conservation of fungi. There are 5 areas in which fungi can be readily integrated into conservation: as providers of habitats and processes important for other organisms; as indicators of desired or undesired trends in ecosystem functioning; as indicators of habitats of conservation value; as providers of powerful links between human societies and the natural world because of their value as food, medicine, and biotechnological tools; and as sources of novel tools and approaches for conservation ofmegadiverse organism groups.We hope conservation professionals will value the potential of fungi, engage mycologists in their work, and appreciate the crucial role of fungi in nature.