Fungi In A Warmer World Fungal Diversity In The Tropical Middle Miocene Climate Optimum Forests Of Thailand
Fungi are excellent but under-utilized resources for understanding and predicting climate change. As heterotrophic organisms that rely on other organisms, especially plants, for nutrients, including carbon, their diversity is linked to overall ecosystem diversity. Fungi have high preservation potential in the fossil record due to their cellular composition, thus can be used to track past environmental and climate change, even when other microfossils are scarce. Here we explore fungal diversity preserved in coal samples from the Mae Moh Basin in Thailand, which were deposited during the Middle Miocene Climate Optimum (MMCO; 15-17 million years ago). We show how diversity changed through time, reflecting climate change associated with the MMCO, a period of past global climate change that is often used as a proxy for modern climate change.