SOUTHERN OYSTER MUSHROOM BEETLE
A very rare detritivorous beetle.
Rarity: A scattering of sites across southern England
Cause of decline: Loss of suitable decaying trees.
Southern Oyster Mushroom Beetles are found at only a handful of sites in southern England. The beetles are associated with oyster mushrooms (and probably other bracket fungi) on large, old, decaying trees.
The key factor thought to have led to the decline in this species is a loss of habitat, but it is possible that over-foraging of mushrooms also has an impact, as the beetles rely on them for survival.
To date, we have undertaken surveys for this species in the New Forest, Kent and Sussex. We found several beetles in the New Forest, but were unable to find any at the other sites.
We have also undertaken a survey of the trees at one of the key sites in Kent. This survey identified a good range of mature and veteran trees, suggesting that areas of the site should still be suitable for the species. However, no oyster mushrooms were found.
We are now looking into undertaking further survey work in Kent and Sussex, to try to establish if there are any surviving populations. We are also exploring the possibility of undertaking research into the potential impacts of excessive mushroom foraging on this species.