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The commercial harvest of special forest products has emerged as a major industry in the Pacific Northwest, employing over 10,000 people and contributing over $100 million to the regional economy (Schlosser and Blatner 1995) (Color Plates 1-3). Its emergence comes at a critical time for the region, in both economic benefits and changing attitudes toward forest management. With the decline in Federal timber supply, the harvest of special forest products provides significant economic diversification for forest-associated communities. Public land agencies also have embraced a more comprehensive philosophy of land steward- ship, called ecosystem management. In this approach, all forest organisms and processes are valued for their contribution to the healthy functioning of the forest, and management decisions focus on maintaining this biological diversity and functional complexity, while encouraging sustainable commodity production. This new management paradigm requires expanded knowledge of how forests function and uses an adaptive management strategy that modifies forest management plans as new knowledge is incorporated. Thus, the opportunity is at hand for integrating the wise harvest of special forest products into evolving ecosystem management scenarios (see Pilz and others 1996 for more details).
Japanese terminology
The Japanese term "matsu-take" literally translates as "pine-mushroom," and originally it referred collectively to Tricholoma matsutake and closely related Asian species. Japanese-Americans used it for the American species T. magnivelare when they began substituting this mushroom for matsutake species found in their native homelands (Redhead 1997). Tricholoma magnivelare is variously called (North) American matsutake, white matsutake, pine mushroom, or tanoak mushroom (Plates 4 and 5). Tricholoma magnivelare grows in association with a wide variety of tree hosts, so we prefer the general and inclusive common name "American matsutake." By contrast, we will use "Japanese matsutake" to refer to T. matsutake (Plate 6).

Use of the term "matsutake" can be confusing, and it is used inconsistently in published literature. Some authors capitalize it, as if referring to an individual, others do not. We will not, and will instead follow common practice for "morel" or "chanterelle" mushrooms. More importantly, "matsutake" is both singular and plural. Also, it is variously used to refer to any Tricholoma species that is marketed as matsutake, collectively to all the species marketed as matsutake, to individuals of the matsutake fungus (that is, genetically unique colonies in the soil), or to the fruiting bodies (mushrooms) that an individual matsutake fungus produces. We avoid the bilingually redundant term "matsutake mushroom," even though it is used in the literature. Scientific names are used to distinguish among Tricholoma species. References to matsutake habitat, management, monitoring, or resource imply either species or populations. Matsutake fruiting refers to the fungus (either individually or as populations of individuals). Matsutake production refers to numbers of mushrooms or weight of a crop of mushrooms. Matsutake harvesting, collecting, or marketing refers to the mushrooms (singular or plural).

Another commonly used Japanese term in matsutake literature is "shiro." As a Japanese noun, it means castle or domain (fruiting place) of a mushroom. As an adjective, it means white. More specifically, a shiro is the dense mat of fungal filaments ("hyphae" or collectively "mycelium") that matsutake species form in the soil. It is also used to refer to locations where the matsutake fungus fruits (that is, mushroom patches in the forest). In this sense, a typical shiro consists of mushrooms growing in a linear arc, like incomplete (or occasionally complete) "fairy rings." Shiro morphology and ecology are discussed later in greater detail. Both "shiro" and "shiros" are used for the plural of this term in the literature. For clarity, we will use "shiros" as the plural.

Wild, edible forest mushrooms are a relatively new crop among special forest products, but their harvest has quickly expanded into a multimillion dollar industry in the Pacific Northwest. Several mushroom species are harvested (Molina and others 1993, Amaranthus and Pilz 1996) but the most valuable, in fresh weight price paid to harvesters, is the American matsutake. Considerable controversy surrounds the proper management of the American matsutake and its harvest; disagreement often stems from lack of knowledge about its ecology, productivity, proper harvesting techniques, and the effect of repeated harvesting on future production. The objectives of this paper are to summarize existing knowledge about Japanese and American matsutake species and to discuss how land managers can incorporate this information into existing forest ecosystem management plans and practices to improve management of the matsutake resource.

The American matsutake is commercially harvested from northern Canada to northern California, and more recently, in the mountains of central Mexico. Unlike other harvested wild mushrooms, however, the market for American matsutake is almost entirely for export to Japan (70 percent) or for sale to Asian communities in the Pacific Northwest (21 percent) (Schlosser and Blatner 1995). The American matsutake resembles the Japanese matsutake in shape, odor, and flavor. Demand for Japanese matsutake has increasingly exceeded supplies during the last 30 years owing to the decline of matsutake habitat in Japan and growing demand from a larger and wealthier consumer population. Hence, Japanese entrepreneurs began importing similar mushrooms to supplement supply, especially since the mid-1980s.

We begin our first chapter by examining ancient traditions regarding matsutake and events that have prompted importation of the Japanese matsutake and similar species. Matsutake species develop symbiotic associations with the roots of forest trees; these are called mycorrhizae (literally fungus-roots) and are essential to the health of both symbionts (Plate 7). The fungus explores the soil with its mycelium and directly provides nutrients to the roots. In return, the plant provides carbohydrates (sugars) produced from photosynthesis that serve as the energy source for the fungus. Japanese mycologists have extensively studied the ecology and physiology of the Japanese matsutake and its mycorrhizal relationship to host trees. Together with professional foresters, they have developed forest management techniques aimed at sustaining and enhancing matsutake productivity by manipulating forest stands and soil surface conditions. In essence, they manage pine forests with enhanced mushroom production as the primary objective. We conclude our first chapter by reviewing the ecology and management of the Japanese matsutake because that knowledge is rich with possibilities and approaches for managing the American matsutake.

Chapter 2 explores the ecology of the American matsutake, a fungus widely distributed throughout North America (Redhead 1989) and harvested from diverse forest habitats where it develops mycorrhizal associations with numerous tree species. Although the American and Japanese matsutake species share some common biological features, the American matsutake has a much larger geographic range and thus exhibits a broader range of  local ecological adaptations and specific habitat requirements. Managing the American matsutake must take these ecotypic or strain differences into account. In this chapter, we also describe some of the habitats known to produce reliable commercial crops. We conclude this chapter by describing a pioneering biological and ecological study of American matsutake populations in central Washington.

Chapter 3 discusses the challenges managers face when integrating the commercial harvest of American matsutake into forest ecosystem management plans. We begin by describing the social and economic context of the matsutake harvest in North America and internationally. Then we analyze the biological, ecological, and forest management considerations managers must integrate to maintain both fungus populations and their habitat, and thus sustain mushroom productivity.

Implementing long-term monitoring programs for wild, edible mushrooms is a challenge for managers. Fungi are unique among forest organisms in their reproductive biology. Their fruiting bodies (mushrooms and truffles) are ephemeral and patchy in distribution, and the quantities produced differ greatly from year to year. Practical methods to measure mushroom productivity in a variety of habitats are mostly in early developmental stages. Survey and monitoring procedures developed for plants and animals need extensive modification to make them suitable for measuring fungal distributions and productivity. We summarize monitoring approaches and challenges and then describe current and future studies that will provide managers with pertinent information for better decisions. We conclude by explaining how matsutake management can be integrated into broader ecosystem management plans.

Our goal is to provide forest managers and the public with a summary of current knowledge about the matsutake. We believe this will help resource managers develop long-term matsutake monitoring projects at important harvest sites around the Pacific Northwest and, in conjunction with input from the interested public, develop effective and equitable plans for managing this valued resource.

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