The fungi form a group that includes, for example, yeasts, molds, and lichens. The fruiting bodies (reproductive organisms which produce spores) of some fungi that grow above the ground and can be seen by the naked eye are called mushrooms. Fungi are not plants or animals, but form their own separate group of organisms. Lichenized fungi, also simply called lichens are organisms formed by the symbiotic relationship between fungi and algae or fungi and cyanobacteria (microscopic bacteria that use photosynthesis). A symbiotic relationship means that there is a cooperation between the fungi and algae or cyanobacteria on a microscopic level, and that both organisms get benefits from the cooperation. The fungus uses the organic matter produced by the algae or cyanobacteria through photosynthesis, while the algae or cyanobacteria benefits from the shelter, moisture, and nutrients that the fungus provides. Fungus is one of the groups that includes the most diversity of species in the Arctic, with about 4,350 species (2013 estimate). However, it is hard to study must fungi because many species found underground or are microscopic. We will focus on describing Arctic fungi which have parts that can be observed easily, specifically lichens and mushrooms.
Lichens are very important organisms in Arctic ecosystems. Arctic lichens are uniquely adapted to low temperature and dry environment, with some species being able to grow even during the winter, under snow and ice. Many lichens are able to live both in the Low and High Arctic, and they can be the dominant vegetation in some areas, for example in the case of reindeer lichens. In addition to being an important food for some Arctic animals, especially reindeer, they have also been used by Arctic people for multiple purposes such as mild antibiotics, famine food, dyes, tinder, and more. Examples of lichens found in the East Atlantic Arctic include:
- The Witch's Hair Lichen Alectoria ochroleuca. Witch's hair lichen is a fruticose lichen, meaning it grows in leafless branches. It is found throughout the northern Hemisphere, as well as mountainous areas of central and southern America. It is found in all Low and High Arctic regions including in the East Atlantic Arctic (Greenland, Svalbard, Iceland, and Fennoscandia).
- The Eagle's claw Lichen Anaptychia ciliaris. Eagle's claw lichen is a foliose lichen, meaning it grows in flat leafless shapes. It is found in northwestern Russia, North America and Europe, including Iceland, the Faroe Islands, and throughout Fennoscandia.
- The Tree firedot Lichen Caloplaca holocarpa. Tree firedot lichen is a crustose lichen, meaning it grows in a thick crust. It has a circumpolar distribution, and is found throughout the East Atlantic Arctic around Greenland, in Svalbard, throughout Fennoscandia, the Faroe Islands, and in Iceland.
Fungi is a group that includes yeasts, molds, lichens and mushrooms. It is the group that includes the mot diversity of species in the arctic but It is hard to study must fungi because they are mostly found underground or are microscopic. Only 2,600 fungi species are known and visible to the human eye in the arctic, but CAFF estimates more than 10,000 species in total. We will focus fungi attributes that can be seen above ground, particularly mushrooms, which are the fruiting bodies of some fungi.
- "Cladonia asahinae. (pixie cup lichen)" by Bernard Spragg is marked with CC0 1.0.
- "Alectoria ochroleuca" by hordur.kristinsson is licensed under CC BY-NC 2.0.
- "Anaptychia ciliaris" by anpena is licensed under CC BY-NC-SA 2.0.
- "Caloplaca holocarpa" by Björn S... is licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0.
- "Amanita muscaria." by Bernard Spragg is marked with CC PDM 1.0
- "Gorro de bruja * Hygrocybe conica" by jacilluch is licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0
- "Iceland moss - Cetraria islandica" by Björn S... is licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0
- Alstrup, V., Christensen, S.N., Hansen, E.S., and Svane, S. (1992). The Lichens of the Faroes. Annales Societatis Scientiarum Færoensis, 40. https://timarit.is/page/930135#page/n55/mode/2up
- Arup, U. (2009). The Caloplaca holocarpa group in the Nordic countries, except Iceland. Lichenologist, 41(2), 111–130. https://doi.org/10.1017/S0024282909008135
- Dahlberg, A., Bültmann, H., Cripps, C.L., Eyjólfsdóttir, G.G., Gulden, G., Kristinsson, H., and Zhurbe, M. (2013). Flora. In Arctic Biodiversity Assessment (pp. 354–371). https://www.caff.is/assessment-series/arctic-biodiversity-assessment/215-arctic-biodiversity-assessment-2013-chapter-10-fungi
- Kristinsson, H., Zhurbenko, M. and Hansen, E.S. (2009). Panarctic checklist of lichens and lichenicolous fungi CAFF Technical Report No. 20, CAFF International Secretariat, Akureyri, Iceland.