May 20, 2021

Fungi and oak trees – module 1 of 3

Part one of a three part course led by an expert team of mycology researchers and specialists

Three online modules taking place in Spring, Autumn and Winter on the following dates:

Thursday 20 May, Thursday 16 September and Thursday 02 December 2021


  • Professor Lynne Boddy – Cardiff University
  • Jill Butler – Ancient Tree Specialist and Trustee of the Tree Register of the British Isles
  • Rich Wright – PhD researcher, Cardiff University, Royal Botanic Gardens Kew
  • Ed Pyne – PhD researcher, Bangor University
  • Matt Wainhouse – PhD researcher, Cardiff University

Time: 11.00am to 3.00pm each session (2.5 hours teaching, 45 mins Q & A, 30mins breaks)

Method: ZOOM online meetings

Maximum number of delegates: 30

Oaks are among the UK’s most loved trees. Their tangled branches and grand stature have inspired countless folk tales and they are an iconic part of the British landscape. Oaks are the third most common tree in woodlands and the most common in open grown settings, totalling more than 120 million individuals. They can live to over 1000 years and the UK supports more than 49,000 ancient, veteran, and notable oak trees, more than all other European countries combined.

As with all trees, fungi play many essential and formative roles in an oak’s life. These range from mycorrhizal associations that provide critical nutrients throughout their lives, through to the heart-rot fungi that engineer the great hollows that support a rich multitude of biodiversity.

Despite a great history of research and observation, much like the empty mysterious darkness that an oak hollow emits, there are many gaps in our knowledge of the fungi that grow on and with oaks, their interactions, and their effects on the life of tree. This course will bring together current knowledge and insights from researchers and specialists that have focused on oak and their associated fungi.

The course will be delivered in 3 online sessions through a mix of live and pre-recorded sessions. This will be balanced with plenty of breaks and discussion time. The first session will begin with introductory concepts in mycology, fungal ecology and oak associated diversity. We will then progress through a more detailed look at the effects of fungi on oak and the hidden diversity beneath the bark and will round up with a look at the historical presence of oak in the UK, conservation, and management practices that will support these amazing trees and the biodiversity that relies upon them.

The course is aimed at anyone with an interest in trees or fungi and will progress from introductory material to more in depth subjects progressively. It will be of particular interest to arboriculturists, ecologists, land managers and field mycologists that wish to deepen their understanding of the relationships between trees and fungi.

The RFS is very excited and proud to offer this course, which is led by a team of distinguished academics and specialists in the field and is a superb opportunity for members and non-members to learn more about this fascinating topic in a relaxed online learning environment.

Course summary:

  • Introduction to mycology, basic biology and key concepts
  • Fungal diversity
  • Ecological roles of fungi
  • The oak holobiont
  • Oak associated biodiversity
  • Types of decay
  • Establishment and succession
  • Community structure in wood
  • How fungi influence the structure of trees
  • Current research into oak associated fungi
  • Key fungi associated with oak
  • A global view of fungi in forests
  • History of oaks in the UK landscape
  • Conservation of oaks
  • Conservation of fungi
  • Veteranisation of oak
  • Management practices to support oaks and associated diversity

Modules cannot be booked separately.  Please book early to avoid disappointment!

Price: RFS members £57.50 / non-RFS members £80.00 (for all three sessions)

Professor Lynne Boddy

Cardiff University

Lynne Boddy is Professor of Fungal Ecology at Cardiff University UK. She has taught and researched into the ecology of fungi associated with trees and wood decomposition for 40 years. She is currently studying the fascinating communities of fungi and other organisms that rot the centres of old trees, the ash dieback fungus that is rampaging across the UK from Europe, the ways in which fungi fight each other and form communities, how they search the forest floor for food resources and respond to their finds, and how climate change is affecting fungi. She is a prolific author having co-authored “Fungal Decomposition of Wood” and “The Fungi”, her most recent (in early 2021) being “Fungi and Trees: their Complex Relationships”. She has edited six books, written well over 200 scientific papers, and is chief editor of the journal Fungal Ecology. She was (2009–2010) president of the British Mycological Society. Lynne is an ardent communicator of the mysteries and importance of the amazing hidden Kingdom of Fungi to the general public including TV, radio, popular talks, videos, articles and exhibitions. She was awarded an MBE in the Queen’s Birthday Honours list in 2019 for Services to Mycology and Science Outreach.

Jill Butler MSc, MICFor, VetCert Consulting.

Ancient Tree Specialist and Trustee of the Tree Register of the British Isles

For at least two decades, I have had a specialist interest in ancient and other veteran trees and ancient Forests, wood pastures and parkland. This interest has led me into understanding the history and structure of past landscapes through ancient trees and in learning about the important ecological aspects of managing open grazed Forests with large herbivores. We still have a lot to learn about how to generate open-grown, ancient, light-demanding trees and shrubs of the future.

I have followed in Frans Vera’s footsteps across Europe to look at the sites he researched for his landmark book “Forest history and grazing ecology” including 4 visits to Bialowieza National Park in Poland. I have also followed in Ted Green’s fungi and ancient tree footsteps to explore the unique tree biodiversity and heritage associated with many species of ancient tree. Together we were involved in the early stages of the Knepp wildland project in West Sussex with Charlie and Issy Burrell and continue to support the project through regular Tree Safaris.

Rich Wright

PhD researcher, Cardiff University, Royal Botanic Gardens Kew

Rich is a PhD student at Cardiff University, researching the fungal communities that are associated with oak heart-rot. He has been a keen field mycologist for 20 years and has worked in fungal education and outreach for the last decade. He works part time at Royal Botanic Gardens Kew as an outreach officer for the fungal tree of life project and has held other research technician posts there working on fungarium sampling for genomics and the taxonomy of Trichoglossum. Rich is also a member of the education and outreach board at the British Mycological Society, as the lead on life-long-learning.

Ed Pyne

PhD researcher, Bangor University

Ed started working with trees as a climbing arborist in 2012. He completed his BSc in Biological Science at Cardiff University in 2020. During his time at Cardiff, He was an active member of the Cardiff Fungal Ecology research group assisting PhD students. He completed a year-long research placement at the Bavarian Forest National Park investigating wood decay fungal community structure in response to climate variability. Ed’s undergraduate thesis assessed the impact of oak canopy dead wood creation on fungal communities. Ed is currently undertaking his PhD at Bangor university investigating the ecology of Armillaria rhizomorphs and their chemical interactions.

Matt Wainhouse

PhD researcher, Cardiff University

Matt is an ecologist undertaking a PhD in the ecology and conservation of heart-rot fungi. His work focuses on understanding community structure and stress responses in oak fungi and is developing heart-rot inoculation methods for fungi in beech. Matt is a Principal Ecologist at RSK Wilding advising on habitat creation and rewilding, biodiversity net-gain and natural capital. He is a Winston Churchill fellow researching how international approaches to fungal conservation could be applied to the UK planning system.