An appraisal of soil fungal biodiversity: The crossroads between taxonomic and functional biodiversity

John C. Zak, Suzanne Visser

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

51 Scopus citations


Attempts at evaluating taxonomic diversity of soil fungi either at the landscape or biome level are just as problematic as current efforts for developing a baseline data set of global biodiversity if the taxonomic information is not integrated into an ecosystem context. That is, attention should be given toward understanding the linkages between taxonomic diversity and functional diversity. Only then can biodiversity data be collected that have some predictive potential rather than simply being descriptive. One aspect of fungal biodiversity that has not been adequately addressed is the impact of the fungal growth form on estimates of biodiversity and the model that is used to express the organization of the fungal mycelium. The indeterminate and mycelial growth form of most fungi allows for ecological properties that have not been well considered in discussions on fungal biodiversity. The aim of this paper is to: (i) expand upon our current discussions on fungal biodiversity by introducing aspects of the biology of fungi that may influence patterns of biodiversity, (ii) to present the discussion of the biodiversity of soil fungi in an ecological framework from which comparisons with other taxonomic groups can be made, and (iii) to introduce new avenues of enquiry that may prove fruitful in the quest towards understanding the mechanisms that account for patterns in fungal biodiversity.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)169-183
Number of pages15
JournalBiodiversity and Conservation
Issue number2
StatePublished - 1996


  • Functional diversity
  • Mycelial growth form
  • Soil fungi
  • Taxonomic diversity


Dive into the research topics of 'An appraisal of soil fungal biodiversity: The crossroads between taxonomic and functional biodiversity'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this