Underground fungi to be mapped in efforts to protect and preserve networks

The first global exploration and mapping of underground fungal networks, which play a critical role in the preservation of the planet,

Using 10,000 observations from the GlobalFungi dataset, coupled with hundreds of layers of global environmental data, SPUN is using machine learning to predict the distribution of network biodiversity across the planet.

SPUN will collect an additional 10,000 samples across ecosystems on all continents in the next 18 months to explore network biodiversity and carbon-sequestration hotspots.

These maps will be used to identify high-priority sites with the potential to store more carbon and survive extreme climate events.  

Currently fungal networks face an uncertain future. Their loss – driven by agricultural expansion, pollution, urbanisation and deforestation – is largely undocumented and invisible. 

Mark Tercek, former CEO of the Nature Conservancy who sits on the SPUN Governing Board, said: “Understanding underground ecosystems better is a big opportunity for biodiversity and climate initiatives. Fungal networks underpin life on Earth. If trees are the ‘lungs’ of the planet, fungal networks are the ‘circulatory systems.’  These networks are largely unexplored, yet remain one of the biggest untapped levers in science.”

SPUN will conduct its first sampling mission together with Fungi Foundation in April 2022, focused on network biodiversity hotspots, predicted to be in regions such as the highlands of Patagonia.

SPUN will train and partner with researchers, activists, and local communities to collect samples, and protect and manage underground ecosystems.
Network exploration is being guided by a team of advisors including conservationist Jane Goodall.

Co-founded by Toby Kiers and Colin Averill, SPUN’s mission is to save trillions of kilometres of underground networks threatened by human activity and climate extremes, and utilise fungal networks to help sequester carbon, move nutrients, and protect ecosystem biodiversity. 

The non-profit science initiative involves scientists, activists and local communities dedicated to protecting the underground ecosystems that sustain all life on Earth.


Rosa Medea is Life & Soul Magazine’s Chief. She writes about lifestyle including sustainable and green living

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