Fungi In A Warmer World Fungal Diversity In The Tropical Middle Miocene Climate Optimum Forests Of Australia
Fungi are extremely important components of our environment; knowing fungal biodiversity provides key information about ecosystem dynamics, especially about carbon cycling. Here we present an overview of fungal biodiversity as recorded in 16.6-14.8 million year old lignite seams from the Gippsland Basin, Australia. This interval of time includes the Middle Miocene Climate Optimum (MMCO), a warm period that is a potential analog for understanding the impacts of modern climate change. All lignite samples are from the Yallourn Seam of the Latrobe Valley Group, and have been extensively studied using plant palynology, organic petrography, and stratigraphy to produce a detailed paleoecological record for the area across the MMCO. However, the fungi preserved in these coals have never been studied. Here we present the first overview of fossil fungal diversity from the Yallourn Seam. This study lays the foundation for predicting future fungal biodiversity in similar ecosystems during predicted modern climate change.