Document Type

Honors Paper


Eric Vukicevich

Publication Date



The Kingdom Fungi holds a wealth of biodiversity and potential for better supporting both natural and human communities (Lange, 2014). Mushroom-forming fungi have potential value as sustainable and accessible sources of food in public green spaces (Rombach & Dean, 2023). The purpose of this investigation was to examine the effect of trailside disturbance and tree communities on the diversity and community composition of mushroom-forming fungi in New London, Connecticut. Six public green spaces were identified and surveyed for species richness of mushroom-forming fungi. At each site, two foraging areas of equal area were defined: one along either side of a trail, and one in an undisturbed section of forest adjacent to the trailside area. Each site and both foraging areas within each site were visited twice between the months of September and October of 2022. Temperature and precipitation data were gathered for the 72 hours surrounding each sample collection, and the number of days since September 1 at the time of sampling was recorded as a measure of seasonality. Tree diversity and the proportion of tree species that associate with ectomycorrhizal fungi (ECM) were also assessed at each site. Fungal species richness was found to be associated with sites that had higher proportions of ECM tree species. Disturbance caused by the presence of a trail in the foraging area did not have a significant impact on fungal species richness observed. Fungal community composition varied between sites and with seasonality of the sampling date. Tree diversity, temperature and precipitation levels, and sampling site did not significantly impact fungal species richness. Identifying the proportion of ECM tree species present as a predictor for fungal diversity is helpful in expanding our knowledge of fungal biodiversity and making mushroom foraging more accessible to people in urban environments.



The views expressed in this paper are solely those of the author.