Our National Australian Fungimap Database has over 100,000 records and 6,500 images of fungi provided by 1,000 contributors nationwide. This valuable resource is used for research, conservation, and policy purposes.
It is not possible for us to describe and map the 6,000 or so species that have been discovered but we have made some progress.
Identifying fungi can be extremely difficult with many species able to be differentiated only by microscope or genetic sequencing. For this reason we selected 200 target species that:
- are reasonably easy to identify in the field
- are relatively widespread
- have enough recorded observations to allow a general picture of distribution
- cover a range of fungal groups
Produced entirely by volunteers and in partnership with the Field Naturalists Club of Victoria, the Fungi Down Under field guide was published in 2005 and reprinted in 2009 covering the first 100 species.
The sequel for a further 100 species will be published in 2019.
We also produced a Compendium of Fungimap Target Species CD-Rom in 2001.
In partnership with the Royal Botanic Gardens Victoria, we developed FunKey – Key to Agarics – an interactive app-based key for Australian fungi that includes edible and poisonous mushrooms, ectomycorrhizal fungi such as Amanita and Cortinarius, and saprotrophs such as Gymnopilus and Mycena. This is available for purchase from Lucid software.
Our advocacy challenges the common notion that fungi are unimportant, a pest problem or are just another branch of the flora tree of life.
Our submission to the Commonwealth State of the Environment Report in 2015 resulted in a ‘case study’ on fungi being included – a first for SOE reports. See our page on conservation for more on SEO reporting.
The Victorian Government’s Protecting Victoria’s Environment – Biodiversity 2037 ignored most of our submission but acknowledges the work of Fungimap and includes:
Biodiversity encompasses all components of the living world: the number and variety of plants, animals and other living things, including fungi and micro-organisms, across our land, rivers, coast and ocean.
These are small gains in recognition of the importance of fungi to biodiversity and there is still a long way to go in persuading governments that fungi evolved separately from plants and warrant attention as a large and biodiverse group of organisms that, more than any other, mediate the interactions between species and facilitates important ecosystem functions.
We will continue to point out that conservation strategies will be ineffective unless a more comprehensive approach is taken that acknowledges the role of fungi and is informed by a good deal more research and monitoring of fungal species.