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Introductory information for new members

Welcome to Fungimap. We are delighted that you have joined us. Thank you for your membership payment.

 Your membership will go towards supporting a number of Fungimap projects, including:

1)  Running the mapping project for Australian macrofungi - a nationwide project with input from over 700 volunteers; and,

2)          Maintaining the Fungimap database - a vital part of the Fungimap project with over 100,000 records of fungi sightings, as well as information on photographs submitted and contact details for people on our mailing list.

Your membership entitles you to vote at Fungimap annual general meetings, nominate to be a committee member, receive our newsletters and receive discounts at our events. All previous newsletters are available on our website. You will receive the newsletters when they are published. All fungi records received are acknowledged in the newsletter rather than individually.

This information pack tells you all about Fungimap, the National Australian Fungimap Database and our ‘Target Species’, and how to identify and make records of fungi. There is also some information on making collections of fungi and detailed information about determining the location of your record towards the end.

 I hope that you will enjoy participating in Fungimap, and please do let me know if you have any questions.

 Regards,

 Sapphire McMullan-Fisher

Fungimap Coordinator

Background

Fungimap Inc is a national non-profit citizen-science organisation dedicated to raising the profile of Australia's incredible fungal diversity. Our emphasis is on enjoying and learning about fungi and our focus is on macrofungi in the natural environment. Our mottos are 'Putting Australian fungi on the map' and 'Community based science in action'.

Fungimap maintains the National Australian Fungimap Database (NAFD) containing over 100,000 records and 6,500 images of fungi from over 700 contributors nationwide. This valuable resource is used for research, conservation, and policy purposes and has been provided to the Australian National Heritage Assessment Tool (ANHAT), state and Commonwealth environment agencies, and the Atlas of Living Australia. In addition, Fungimap delivers national and local events and training in fungal identification and surveying, and produces innovative tools for fungal identification, such as the Fungimap CD Rom and the field guide Fungi Down Under.

How is Fungimap organised?

Fungimap is an incorporated organisation, with a committee of management; currently Tom May (President), Roz Hart (Vice-President), Paul George (Secretary), Tom Jeavons (Treasurer), Nikki Bennets and Jasmin Packer. The Royal Botanic Gardens Melbourne provides support for the Fungimap office. There are two part-time Fungimap Co-ordinators at the Fungimap office, as well as a group of dedicated volunteers.

 Why are fungi important?

Fungi are known to have a vital role in the ecosystem as decomposers, as pathogens and as partners in mutualisms (symbioses) such as mycorrhizas. Without fungi, our life on earth would be vastly different, if it existed at all. Fungi are the main recyclers of dead plant material. Fungi also considerably aid humanity in other ways, for example as yeasts, and as biologically active compounds, such as antibiotics.

 The distribution of even the most well-known species of Australian fungi is poorly known. There are few published distribution maps. Current research in many areas, especially conservation, is hampered by lack of basic knowledge of our fungi.

 The study of fungi is one of the areas of natural science where non-specialists can make a substantial contribution.  Taking into account the importance of fungi in our world, it is critical that knowledge be gained as quickly as possible.

 Research questions that Fungimap data will assist in addressing

·         What is the scale of distribution of fungi? How many fungi are localised, how many have wide distributions?

·         What are the major patterns of distribution? Are some species found both in south-east and south-west Australia, or are some species restricted to one of these regions?

·         What factors determine the limits (boundaries) of distribution? Are species limited by rainfall, temperature, soil type, host, or combinations of these factors?

·         What habitat and substrate preferences are found within the area of distribution of various species?

·         Which species survive in remnant vegetation? Of particular interest is urban remnant vegetation.

·         What is the effect of various forms of disturbance, such as fire or logging, on the occurrence of fungi?

·         Are exotic species of fungi spreading into native forests?

·         Is the effect of atmospheric pollution detectable in the distribution/numbers of fungi? We have no data on which to measure this, thus there is a need for baseline data (Fungimap, with YOUR INPUT, can provide some of this).

·         What is the time of appearance (phenology) of the fruiting bodies, and what factors might affect this?

·         Are some species rarer than others?

 Records and Data

Citizen scientists contribute significantly to Australia’s knowledge about fungi. Fungimap’s data is the second largest fungal data set in Australia, second only to the Australian Virtual Herbarium (which constitutes all the state herbaria).

 Submitting records of your observations of fungi (with or without photos) will contribute to furthering our knowledge. Fungimap’s data is publicly accessible via the Atlas of Living Australia (http://www.ala.org.au/ ).

 Fungimap accepts records of all species of fungi, however if you are starting out as a fungimapper, we suggest beginning with the ‘Target Species’. The target species have been chosen so as to be readily recognisable in the field.

 Fungimap commenced in 1995 with 8 ‘target species’, which soon expanded to 50. In 1999, a further 50 target species were added, and another 5 in 2006. The list is currently at 130 and will be expanded to 200 with the publication of our second edition of Fungi Down Under in 2015/2016.

 The following newsletters included information about the 30 additional target species when they were added to the list:

·            June 2006 No.28,

·            December 2008 No.36

·            January 2010 No.39

·            January 2011 No.42

·            January 2012 No.45

·            January 2013 No.48

Recorders are encouraged to send in photos – especially if you are unfamiliar with the species or there is some doubt about the identity of a record. More information on making records is included later in this document.

 Fungimap does not accept collections of fungi, just records. If you are interested in making collections your local herbarium may take them (the National Herbarium of Victoria at the Royal Botanic Gardens Melbourne does). There are some shot guidelines on making collections at the end of this guide.

How to submit a record

 Please either submit records via our website, or send in the record form.

 How to identify a fungus

Unfortunately, there is no comprehensive field guide to Australian fungi (relatively little work has been done on Australian fungi, there are still thousands of species which have not yet been identified/described, and of those which have been, many can not be distinguished in the field).  As a consequence, it is unlikely that you will be able to identify all the fungi that you find.  Instead, using a combination of resources you should be able to start putting fungi into various groups (eg. agarics (gilled fungi), puffballs, etc.), and from there you may be able to learn to recognise the ones most commonly found in your area.

The Fungimap target species have been chosen because they are relatively easy to identify in the field (you won’t need a microscope!), and they cover a wide range of habitats, so it is likely that there will be at least a couple of target species around wherever you are.  Therefore they are good species to start with.  The best resource for learning the target species is Fungi Down Under: the Fungimap Guide to Australian Fungi or the Fungimap CD-ROM, both of which include all the target species. You will also find illustrations of the target species in various other field guides to Australian and overseas fungi.

If you find something which you think may be a target species, but you are not certain, either take a photo of it or draw a picture, and send it in with your record for confirmation. We are always happy to receive photos of target species in support of records.

Please note: due to lack of resources, we are unable to provide a general identification service.  We cannot accept large numbers of unidentified photos, as it is very time-consuming work. Please only send photos if you are fairly sure of the identification.

Of course the best way to learn about fungi is to get out in the field with someone who knows: keep an eye on the list of events in the Newsletter for forays or workshops being held in your area.  Several states have fungal studies groups (details are on page 2 of recent Newsletters).  This is a great way to learn about local fungi.

Commonly asked questions from fungimap recorders

What Is A Record?

A Record is a sighting of one species from one locality from one month.

When you have seen a species over a number of days or weeks in one year, still make a note of it, give the date of the first sighting (which is the date on the record entered into the data base) and the dates of subsequent sightings with your recorded information. If you have already sent in the original record, add a note to your next batch of records that the species previously recorded has again come up in the same area, and give the date(s). This information is added to the earlier record.

If you recall seeing a species over many years in the same spot (immediate area), send in as one record with the time span indicated eg x species in my garden, in May over the last 20 years (1989-1999), etc.

Another record should be made of the same species in the same locality if

- it is found in a different habitat or

- growing on a different substrate or

- at some distance away, preferable more than 0.5 km from the first sighting.

What If I Am Not Sure of the Identification?

Easy - If in doubt - leave it out.

It is very important that all records are correctly identified. So far the level of accuracy (as indicated by photos sent in) is extremely high (near 99% correct!). In order to maintain this excellent situation, please omit any records where you are not sure of the identification (or else make sure that you send a photo and note that the record is doubtful). For the rare species, a photo is especially requested, so that a high standard of veracity of records can be maintained.

Are Old Records Wanted?

Some recorders have asked if it is worth sending in old records - the answer is YES. Particularly for the fly agaric (Amanita muscaria), an exotic species. We are interested in when the species first occurred in your area. Even a rough time (such as early 1950s) is useful. For native species, old records may indicate that a species has disappeared, as might be the case after subsequent clearing.

I’ve Got Hundreds Of Photos Of Fungi – What Should I Do With Them?

Fungimap records only the 100 target species – which are all reasonably easy to identify from photos. Many other fungi are quite difficult to identify from photos, because the fungi require microscopical examination for identification purposes, and you will also find that some of your photos are of species yet to be formally described and named. We don’t mind receiving the odd interesting non-target species, but we can’t cope with large batches of photos of unidentified fungi. So please try to send only photos of target species, or get together with your local fungi studies group for an identification session.

Why Are Some of the Target Species Common?

The simple answer is so that you have a chance to find a reasonable number of the species in your area, and are likely to see at least some target species on any fungal foray. The targets have also been chosen so that many are illustrated in one book (Field Companion to Australian Fungi). On the Mount Buffalo expedition approximately 90 species of macrofungi were recorded in three days of surveys - but only a few target species - so don't worry if it's taking you some time to find targets. Many fungi appear quite sporadically (from year to year, and in terms of the time of year) - particularly due to our highly variable climate. Repeated visits to sites will continually yield new finds.

Location for records

Our mapping system is based on latitude/longitude, and will separate individual records as close as 1 second of latitude or longitude. But as a general guide, occurences more than 0.5 km apart (and certainly 1-10 km) are worth recording. Altitude is also important for the new computer-mapping program, for extrapolation purposes. GPS’s are able to provide this data, and some maps have contour lines. If not exactly on a contour line, use the mid distance between the two contours on the map (eg 520m & 530m = 525m). It is convenient for us to have, but still send in the record even if you are unable to provide it – we have ways!!!

One of the main aims of a mapping scheme is to produce maps. Computer programs are now available that allow plotting of distributions at various scales, and with overlays such as rainfall or soil types. The mapping programs used by Fungimap work from latitude and longitude. Records can be submitted with various types of grid references, but all records will eventually need to have a latitude and longitude. Fortunately, other grid systems can be readily converted to latitude and longitude.

The level of precision used by Fungimap is to about the nearest 1 kilometre. So, latitude/longitude needs only to be given to the nearest minute (as for example 37deg.46'S, 145deg.09'E).

The Australian Mapping Grid (AMG)

For grid references from topographic maps (Natmap or other series), the best scale is 1:100,000, or a larger scale such as 1:50,000 or 1:25,000. Latitude/longitude can be worked out from these maps, but the values are usually only given along the edge of the map in intervals of 10 minutes (for 1:100,000 maps). The grids that are printed on these maps are the Australian Mapping Grid (AMG).

To give an AMG reference, first find the vertical grid line to the left of your locality and read off the number from the top or bottom of the map.  If the locality is on a grid line place a zero at the end of this number, otherwise, if the point is not on a grid line, estimate how far it lies between the grid lines on either side (a number between 1 and 9, with 5 being half way between two grid lines), and place this number after the first number. This gives a three-digit number like 331 or 227. Repeat this process for the horizontal grids to give another three-digit number. You then need to specify the map, which has a name (Melbourne) and number (7922) (ignore the letters identifying the 100,000 m square). Putting all that together gives something like 7922-Melbourne- 331.227

There is a computer program that converts Australian Map Grid references to latitude and longitude, and for this the full grid references are required. For the example above, the full grid reference will be in the form 3742.57280 . Note that there is a prefix '3' for the vertical grid, and a prefix '57' for the horizontal grid. These prefixes are the small numbers in front of the normal grid numbers, and are given at the south west corner of the map, and usually every 10 grid lines. The prefixes change at 100, so be careful that the prefix applicable at one corner of the map is the same as that in other parts of the map. Some topographic maps I have seen have the prefix printed before every grid number, which is less confusing (if that is possible!).

When giving Australian Map Grid references, the complete form is, for example, 3742.57280. If you want to give the reference in the basic form, write it as follows: 8022-Healesville-742.280 (the map number and map name, followed by a dash, with the vertical and horizontal coordinates separated by a full stop).

Alternatives

For metropolitan areas, street directories are also a good way of giving a grid reference. For the Melway, for example, just give the map page and the letter and number of the square. Where I am sitting at the moment in the National Herbarium of Victoria is Melway-2G-A12. Even better, the Melway has Australian Map Grid lines on each map; they are the very fine red dotted lines. The only tricky part can be when your location is at the edge of a map, and you can't see where the next AMG grid line is, but you can work out what the distance between grid lines is from the centre of the map. The grid numbers are given in the complete form (i.e. with the prefixes). For the Herbarium the complete AMG reference is 3219.58108.

The Vicroads Country Directory also gives complete AMG grids (the fine blue dotted lines), and latitude and longitude (the red grid lines - but difficult to use because there are eight divisions within each 30' section and you need to interpolate to get the precise minutes).

A useful series of maps for Victoria are the ESMAPs. These are books which are produced for the use of emergency services such as the CFA and contain maps at a scale of 1:50,000 with the complete AMG grids marked. There are ESMAPs for various parts of the state, enquiries about availability can be directed to VICMAP marketing, (03) 9651 1814.

For out of the way places (which we hope that you will all be visiting and recording fungi at) the Readers Digest Atlas of Australia could be used. It is at a scale of 1:1,000,000, with a grid for latitude and longitude.

So, give a grid reference where you can, and remember that you only need to give just one sort of grid reference for each record!

Global Positioning System (GPS)

For those who have one, a GPS can tell you exactly where you are, saving you the bother of consulting a map. However, it is still important to record the location information carefully. A GPS can be set to display the location in either degrees, minutes and seconds (eg. 38deg10'30") or with the seconds as a decimal (eg. 38deg10.5'). For Fungimap purposes, the first method is preferable, however either system is acceptable as long as you clearly indicate on the record sheet which system you are using.

When all else fails...

If you are still saying grr to grids, and it all seems too complicated (and you don't feel like getting a degree in mapology), don't worry, in the absence of a grid reference, a reasonably specific descriptive locality is still useful - something like 50km north of Coober Pedy on the Stuart Hwy is fine. A photocopy of a map with an X marking the spot will also do (but only do this if you can't give a grid reference).

Collections

A collection is one or more fruit bodies from the same immediate locality, such as a group of fruit bodies on the same log, or a scatter of fruit bodies around a tree.

Try to select fruit bodies from as small an area as possible. The wider the area from which you collect fruit bodies, the surer you need to be that they are all really the same species.

The collection should be ample. At least five fruit bodies of medium sized species (1-5 cm diam.). More of smaller species, and for very small species (< 1 mm diam.) it helps to have many fruit bodies. For very large species, a thick section through a single fruit body showing all the parts is sufficient. Select material in good condition. Fungi rapidly decay and are attacked by various insects and other fungi. Do not bother collecting any fungi which are decayed or badly eaten. Collect to show different stages of development. Try and obtain young and mature stages.

Collect all parts of the fruit body. Make sure that the base of the stem and any underground parts (such as a rooting stipe or a sclerotium) are collected. Don’t just break the stem off, use a knife to remove the stem base from the soil or substrate.

Keep the specimens of each collection quite separate. This prevents contamination of spores (a single puffball can release millions of spores). Plastic containers such as ice-cream or yoghurt containers, or medicine vials are good for temporary storage because they stop the fungi being squashed, and also prevent premature drying. Alternatively, material can be wrapped in twists of waxed paper.

If material cannot be dried immediately, it can be stored overnight in a refrigerator. Do not freeze fungi since they often do not thaw well (some become a soggy mess).

Drying

This is the most important stage in preparing a fungal specimen. The two key factors for successful drying are a good flow of air over the specimens and a mild heat source.

Before drying remove excess soil and adhering debris.

Drying is quite successful with a heat of 20-40 °C. Commercial food dehydrators and the cabinet type of clothes-drier are excellent for drying fungi. Good results can also be achieved with small fan heaters (just lay the specimens in the path of the warm air), with ducted heating (place the specimens on racks over the ducts), or wood stoves and the like (place the specimens on racks on top or nearby - so that they are within the convection current). Drying racks can be constructed from mesh, such as fly wire or stiff muslin, stretched over wooden frames (like a small version of a fly wire screen). A number of these racks can be stacked on top of each other with wooden blocks for spacing. A simple rack is a piece of mesh merely placed on a large saucepan or tin. Another method is to use shoe boxes with mesh attached to the cut out bottom of each box. Be careful that the flow of air does not blow the specimens away (especially when they loose weight on drying). Because fungi often shrink considerably on drying you also need to be careful that smaller species do not drop through gaps in mesh.

After removing from the drier, specimens should be quite dry and the stipe should be stiff. Immediately after drying, some specimens are quite brittle but normally soften as they take up a little moisture again when stored at room temperature.

Storage

Place the dried specimens in cellophane, plastic or paper bags, in envelopes, or in cardboard boxes. Fold the bag in half or near the top so that specimens cannot fall out. Secure with paper clips. The label should be placed inside the bag or box, or else firmly attached (with the collection number on a small slip of paper inside the bag or box). Additional material such as spore prints or photographs (also numbered) can also be placed inside or firmly attached. After drying, specimens should be kept as dry as possible to protect them from attack by other fungi (moulds). Species of Agarics and Macrolepiota are unfortunately often spotted by a white mould even in relatively dry conditions. Snap lock plastic bags or ice cream containers can be useful to protect collections from getting damp.

 

 

 

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