CONCORD, N.H. — Five new truffle species were recently identified by University of New Hampshire researchers. The findings contain important information about the health of New England forests.
While other types of so-called deer truffles have been found across Europe and the western United States, the particular species doctoral student Ryan Stephens found in the White Mountain National Forest have never been formally identified and named. Two of the five have only been found in New Hampshire, Stephens said.
“Because truffles fruit underground, they are difficult to observe compared to mushrooms. As a result, truffle diversity in New England is poorly documented. We are trying to better understand which truffle species occur in the region and the factors that structure their distribution and abundance. Ultimately, this information is necessary for unraveling the complex interactions among truffles, animals, and trees that help keep our forests healthy,” Stephens said.
More specifically, the truffles were found in Bartlett Experimental Forest, one of the most well-studied forests in New England, he said. “So to discover a number of new species is exciting, and just goes to show how much we still have to learn.”
Going forward, researchers want to investigate the ecology of these species to determine how abundant they are, what environmental characteristics they are associated with, and how small mammals help mediate their dispersal.
An article detailing the findings written by Castellano and Stephens was published in March in http://www.ima-mycology.org/news/events/fungal-conservation-changing-europe, the journal of the International Mycological Association.