Mediterranean forests are currently facing an onslaught of biotic and abiotic stressors. The most prevalent abiotic stress currently is drought. Looking towards the future, climate change models show that the Mediterranean will be exposed to more frequent and severe droughts, which can in turn exacerbate other stressors such as forest fires. As climate change (CC) alters meteorological patterns, forest fire risk will rise. Growing rural abandonment implies a decrease in the practice of traditional silviculture which historically aided in mitigating fire risk. In the last year, more than 200 people have died, over 100,000 hectares have burned, and billions of euros have been spent on forest fires in Europe. As these fires burn, they destroy the homes and lives of humans and wildlife, and release thousands of tons of carbon that are stored in plants and soils into the atmosphere.
These plants are also affected by biotic stressors, including a variety of pests and pathogens which weaken and kill forest flora. Weakened plants are susceptible to other biotic and abiotic stressors which ultimately places the health and existence of the whole forest ecosystem at risk. These MED forests serve as biodiversity refuges and important carbon sinks. As a keystone species, fungi –a fundamental biodiversity pillar – both below the ground (mycelia) and above the ground (mushrooms) support numerous ecosystem services and may serve as a defining tool for forests to adapt to CC.