The emphasis of antagonistic fungus–consumer interactions to date has been on temperate taxa and predominantly zoocentric, neglecting the effects on the fungal component. These interactions are expected to be especially complex and diverse in the tropics, where both components display their greatest diversity. Variability in fungivory (apparent biomass consumed) of understorey basidiomycetes in a tropical cloud forest was investigated to test whether this could be explained (at the proximate level) by apparency-related characteristics of the aboveground structures (colour of pileus, stipe and hymenium; size and aggregation), as has been suggested for plant–herbivore relationships. Considerable interspecific variation in fungivory was detected (range 0–50%). Cluster analysis showed that neighbouring clusters had dissimilar levels of fungivory. Such clusters were similar in colour attributes of aboveground structures, but differed in aggregation size and apparent biomass. A quantitative analysis also showed that colour attributes were not strongly associated with the observed variation of consumption levels, whereas apparent biomass and aggregation size did correlate with the observed variation in fungivory. Furthermore, specific identity correlated with fungivory. It was concluded that coloration patterns may not be important for fungivory, whereas genet size and species identity (probably via characteristics unrelated to apparency, such as mycotoxins and nutritional value) seemed to be critical factors.
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