Scientists believe that less than .04 percent (check out that decimal point!) of the world’s fungi has been documented, which adds up to only a little over 120,000 species out of a conservatively estimated 3.2 million worldwide. Mycologists Danny Newman and Roo Vandegrift have spent the last 12 years focusing on locations impacted by the climate crisis and increasing human interference, like Ecuador’s Reserva Los Cedros. Their stunning photographs (previously) capture the vibrant hues, delicate gills, and thin stems of a vast range of fungi in the mountainous cloud forest.
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In 2018, the Ecuadorian government declared the Los Cedros reserve—one of the last unlogged watersheds on the western slope of the Andes—open for mining, putting countless flora and fauna at risk. “In a stunning legal upset, the mining concessions which threatened to turn Los Cedros into a toxic, barren wasteland were rescinded by the Ecuadorian supreme court, who specifically cited…our fungal diversity research in their ruling,” Newman says.
Spanning six expeditions, the duo recently published an in-depth survey of their findings, cataloguing a wealth of previously unknown species and providing what Newman calls “one of the most comprehensive contributions to Ecuadorian mycology in the country’s history.” Vandegrift is also the producer of a visually stunning upcoming documentary titled Marrow of the Mountain, filmed during an expedition in 2018 and 2019.
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