Series Preface - English
The fungi of New Zealand are an intriguing and significant part of New Zealand's biodiversity. Geographic isolation for over 50 million years has resulted in distinctiveness in almost all groups of the biota, and the fungi are certainly no exception. The conspicuous flower fungus Aseroe rubra and sky-blue mushroom Entoloma hochstetteri, both featured in the Maori design on the cover, are but two of many iconic species. The indigenous Maori of New Zealand have several traditional uses of selected species of fungi spanning food, medicine, tinder, and ornamentation.
Fungi comprise the threads that bind ecosystems together. Fungi are the great recyclers, causing decomposition of dead plant and animal material and thereby releasing nutritive products to other organisms. There are also many fungi associated with living plants and animals. Most plant diseases are caused by fungi, and the risk of new diseases entering New Zealand is a major focus for border control agencies. With most exports based on primary products (timber, fruit, meat, wool, dairy products), control of fungal diseases of cultivated plants and animals is an imperative for New Zealand. The other main kind of fungal association with living plants is a mutually beneficial, mycorrhizal relationship between fungus and plant roots; fungi assist most plants to absorb nutrients from the soil while themselves receiving carbohydrates produced by photosynthesis in the plant's leaves.
Fungi have been studied scientifically by New Zealand mycologists, sporadically during the late 19th Century and intensively since the early 20thCentury; however, their high numeric diversity (expected to exceed 20,000 species) means that probably three quarters of New Zealand's fungal species remain to be recorded. Landcare Research, along with its predecessor organisation Department of Scientific and Industrial Research (DSIR), has a significant commitment to mycological research and is custodian of the New Zealand Fungal Herbarium (PDD) and International Collection of Micro-organisms from Plants (ICMP), both collections located in Auckland.
The "Fungi of New Zealand / Ngā Kōpurawhetū o Aotearoa" series consists of monographs and definitive treatments of groups of fungi, including taxonomic keys, descriptions, and illustrations. The Fungi are defined in a broad sense, to include the true fungi (Kingdom Fungi) and other groups traditionally studied by mycologists although now considered to belong in the Kingdoms Chromista and Protozoa. Both indigenous and introduced fungal species are treated. Authors include overseas mycologists, reflecting the welcome contribution made to New Zealand mycology by many international collaborators.