Center Fellow Professor Kamaljit Bawa and Associate Uttam Shrestha to Publish Research on Himalayan Fungus
Center Faculty Fellow and UMass Boston Professor Kamaljit Bawa and Research Associate Uttam Shrestha are set to publish groundbreaking research on declining populations of the Nepalese fungus “Yarsagumba” in the journal Biological Conservation. Overharvesting of the fungus, they have found, has led to a major decline in populations and may seriously threaten biodiversity and the Himalayan ecosystem.
The fungus is a parasite that infects and grows within moth larvae, eventually killing them, earning it the name “caterpillar fungus.” It is prized for it’s reputation as medicine and an aphrodisiac in China resulting in high market value. This has led to massive overharvesting and predicted declines in future populations. Consequences for the Himalayan ecosystem could be devastating. Prof. Bawa and Uttam recommend long-monitoring and sustainable practices with respect to future harvests of the fungus.
Prof. Bawa and Uttam’s researched is based in part on hundreds of local interviews, and represents a major contribution to our understanding of risks in the ecosystems of the Himalayas. The authors had recently collaborated on a study of warming of the Himalayan region published in the journal PLOS. A summary of the article can be found on the website of the journal Nature.