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Continental MycoBlitz 2019

August & October, 2019

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2019 Online Foray

Welcome to the first online, continental-scale mushroom foray to take place on Planet Earth! It is part of our efforts to document all of the macrofungi that exist in North America. Funded partly by the National Geographic Society, the Continental Mycoblitz, Part 2 will be conducted from October 20-27, 2019. To participate just review the online training, post your observations to the iNaturalist project during the foray week, and submit your ten most interesting collections to our processing facility. Over 2,000 specimens from the event will be selected for DNA sequencing. Your most interesting finds can help us to understand the mushrooms of North America. We look forward to discovering fungi with you!

What is a mycoblitz?

You may have heard of a "bioblitz" - an intense, and usually time limited survey of all of the organisms living in a given geographic area. A mycoblitz is a similar survey, but with the focus solely on fungi. Participants work to catalog as many species as they can from the survey area, during the survey time period. 

Bringing in 2,000+ new sequenced specimens (and counting....)

With the help of the foray partners, this event will bring over 2,000 new specimens - all DNA "barcoded" - into professional herbaria. You and your organization can contribute by taking an active role in reviewing local specimens and/or contributing funds to DNA sequence more specimens from your particular region, or of your particular taxonomic group of interest.

Sponsored by:

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Technology provided by:

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Supported in part by a grant from the National Geographic Society

Learn about the North American Mycoflora Project

This bioblitz will help to document species as a part of the North American Mycoflora Project. You will be playing a central role in this continental-scale project to document all of the macrofungi of North America. Learn more about what we are trying to achieve by watching the video from the Illinois Mycological Society.

Online Foray Partners

North American Mycological Society

North American Mycological Society

North American Mycological Association encourages amateur mycologists in 80 affiliated clubs to participate in the Mycoblitz.

Botanical Research Institute of Texas (BRIT)

Botanical Research Institute of Texas (BRIT)

Primary repository of herbarium specimens for the foray (1,500 specimens).
Purdue's Kriebel Herbarium

Purdue's Kriebel Herbarium

Accessioning 500 collections from Indiana from this event.
The Hoosier Mushroom Society

The Hoosier Mushroom Society

Funding sequencing for 500 additional specimens from Indiana. 

Overview of the Process

The 2019 Continental Mycoblitz is open to anyone who is willing to make scientifically valuable collections of mushrooms - including photography, field notes, and submitting a dried specimen. Any individual or organization can submit up to 10 of their most unique/interesting/exciting collections from the foray week to the project. Mycologists and foray partners will examine each collection and will perform DNA sequencing on 2,000 of the specimens that are submitted. The best collections will have geotagged color photographs of the mushroom from multiple angles, a completed field data slip, and properly dried mushrooms. You have the chance to make a significant contribution to our knowledge of fungi from North America by submitting specimens to this project!

How to Participate

Before Foray Week



1. Review the online training documents - Become familiar with the process to submit collections to this project: Collecting Mushrooms for Science and iNaturalist Mycoblitz Protocols

2. Download Field Data Slips - Download your field data slips online. These field data slips are individually numbered and should be filled out for each collection you make.

3. Download the iNaturalist Mobile App - Both Android and IOS versions are available. Check your preferred app store for the download. If you do not have a mobile device, you can participate by utilizing the web interface to report your observations.

4. Join the "Continental Mycoblitz 2019" project in iNaturalist - You can join from the mobile app or now from your favorite web browser. You can join this project at any time.

Online Training Documents

Collecting Mushrooms for Science

Learn how to make scientifically valuable collections of mushrooms for the bioblitz. 

iNaturalist Mycoblitz Protocols

How to upload your photographs and metadata for this event.

Selection Committee Training

Foray staff training. (Open to all who want to understand how we are selecting specimens.)

During Foray Week

 

  1. Create new observations of mushrooms you encounter. This can be done through the iNaturalist mobile app in the field (with cell service) or the web interface at home. With each new observation, be sure to select the project for your event and whether you collected the specimen. The mobile app uploads the photos to the reports online.
    1. Take multiple photos of the mushrooms with your cell phone or camera in the field. Your photos are most valuable to science if they include GPS location data: make sure it is turned on! Take a nice image near ground level from the side, as well as an image of the top, the stem, and the spore bearing surface (gills or pores on the underside of the cap).
    2. If you think you might submit the specimen, take an image of a field data slip with the specimen. This will help to ensure you can associate the images with the correct specimens.
    3. Enter the field data slip number into the "Voucher number(s)" field in the mobile app.
       
  2. Collect the specimen. Store your field slip (or the portion with the number) with the specimen. 

Back at home, dry the specimens with a dehydrator or fan - Use the duplicate number at the bottom portion of the voucher slip to organize collections as they are being dried. Once they are cracker dry (usually 1-2 days) put the voucher slip and the specimen in a ziplock bag. Please put the iNaturalist number (in the URL of your observations) and the species name on the voucher slips. This will save us a huge amount of time once we receive the collections

Drying Tray

3. Mail in your dried specimens
 - Mail your top ten specimens to our processing facility. The top specimens that are selected as a part of this event will have their DNA "sequenced" or examined. We are likely to find multiple species that are new to science during this event. Your collections could be part of this.


4. As a reminder, we are looking for:

  • Specimens with complete metadata - color images from multiple angles (including the spore bearing surface), a filled out field data slip, and fully dried specimens.
  • Locally uncommon, rare, or otherwise interesting species.
  • Try to make a few of your specimens from one of the following groups for this event: Cortinarius, Inocybe, Amanita sect. Vaginatae, and/or the Marasmiaceae.

Mail your specimens to:

Purdue Kriebel Herbarium
Lilly Hall of Life Sciences
915 West State St. Room G-447
West Lafayette, IN 47907

Post-event Tissue Collection

Tissue must be collected from all of the dried specimens so the DNA can be read or "sequenced." You will not be required to collect tissue as a part of the mycoblitz. This is the first step that occurs once your specimens arrive at the sorting facility.

Frequently Asked Questions

1. How are determinations made about which mushrooms are selected for sequencing? There are three primary factors that will influence whether a specimen is selected for sequencing or not. The first is that the metadata is complete for the specimen and the quality of that data is high (geotagged color images from multiple angles, completely filled out field data slip, properly dried specimens, and the specimens are well organized). Secondly, we are looking for specimens from specific taxonomic groups and geographical regions that are undersampled. (An uncommon species from North Dakota is more likely to be sequenced than the same uncommon species from Colorado. We will also have a bias to specimens of Cortinarius, Inocybe, Amanita sect. Vaginatae, and the Marasmiaceae for this event. Roughly 20-30% of the specimens will come from these groups.) Finally, the overall interest of the particular species at a specific location by our partner mycologists will produce the final determination. The more uncommon/interesting a particular species is, the higher the chance it will be sequenced.

2. Do I have to send 10 specimens in order to participate? No. Even if you only want to take images and do not want to submit specimens, the observations you provide to the project can still be extremely valuable. Observational data helps us better understand the range and seasonality of even common species. You can also send less than 10 specimens to the event. For each person that submits 10 specimens, we will guarantee that at least one of your specimens are selected for sequencing.

3. Do I have to fill out a data slip for each mushroom I see?
 No, only for specimens you are collecting. If you are simply taking an image of a mushroom to document the species at a particular location, you do not need to fill out a field data slip for it. We do not need 100 collections of Turkey Tails (Trametes versicolor) or Dryad's Saddle (Polyporus squamosus). If you know the mushroom is common, a picture will suffice. Just be sure to take nice, close images from several angles. No need to collect it. But many mushrooms cannot be identified from a picture alone. We also cannot get DNA results from pictures. Saving interesting specimens allows us the potential to study them further.

4. Should I collect a mushroom if I cannot identify it?  Yes! Unidentified mushrooms are often the most interesting ones.  Just call it "Fungi" on the iNaturalist observation and someone will come along and identify it for you.

5. What if a mushroom is very large. Do I have to collect the whole thing? No, just collect a small portion, such as 1/4 of the cap. The best part to save is the top part with the gills/pores, as well as a cross-section of the stem.

6. Do I need the field data slips in order to participate? Yes, mushrooms will only be accepted at the processing facility if they have a mycoflora number from the field data slip that is associated with an iNaturalist observation. Standard NAMP field slips are also ok to use if you have them.

7. What if I run out of field data slips?  You can download more slips online at any time.

8. What do I need to fill out on each field data slip? The requested minimum information to fill out is the date, your name as the collector (you can use initials), the site name, and ecological information (substrate, habitat, etc.). The field for Foray ID is not being used for this event. The more information you are willing to save, the more valuable the report/specimen will be for science. Once your specimens are dry, please put the iNaturalist number for each collection on your voucher slips.

9. Do I need to smell and taste each mushroom? No, but this information is important for certain groups of mushrooms. These sections of the field data slip are optional, but encouraged. Also keep in mind that taste does not equal swallow. You can taste any mushroom without fear. Just gently chew a small bit of the mushroom and let it sit on your tongue for a few seconds to see if any specific taste starts to develop. Then spit the flesh out.

10. What are the numbers on the bottom of the field data slip for? The "Voucher Label for Drying" can be torn off and stored in your tackle box or basket with the specimen. This will allow you to keep the specimens organized with the pictures you take (be sure to take a picture of the field data slip with each specimen for the number and the scale bar on the side of the slip).  The "Tissue Label" is not something we will be using as a part of this project. Please keep it attached to the field data slip with the specimens you send in. This section will be attached to the tissue sample tube that will be used for looking at the DNA of your specimens.

11. Do I have to upload the photos using the mobile app? You have several options to get your images/reports onto iNaturalist. 1. You can create reports using the mobile app in the field as you go along. If you do not have cell service, the app will store the individual reports until your phone is connected. 2. You could take pictures in the field without using the mobile app, and upload to individual iNaturalist observations later once you are back at home. (This is often the suggested method, as you don't have to fuss with a mobile app in the field and can spend more time enjoying nature.) Finally, 3. You could take images with a regular camera and upload individual reports on the iNaturalist website through your computer browser.

12. I am interested in photographing and collecting, but I will not be able to upload to iNaturalist until after the event week. Can I still participate? Yes! We anticipate processing specimens for several months after the foray ends. We ask that you upload your observations to iNaturalist and mail in your samples as soon after foray week as possible, but if it takes a few extra weeks, that will still be acceptable. The longer it takes, however, the fewer open sequencing spots will be left, so getting your specimens in early will give you the best chance for getting some of your specimens sequenced.

13. Can I use online platforms other than iNaturalist to upload my observations for this event? The funding for this event was provided by National Geographic, who is now a partner with iNaturalist. The funding was provided on the basis of utilizing iNaturalist for this event. Thus, we will only be accepting specimens for sequencing consideration that have an observation posted with an iNaturalist link.  You are always free to duplicate your observations on other platforms. 

14. Can you return the specimens that are sent in? Unfortunately, we will not be able to return any specimens that are submitted. If you would like to ensure your specimens are retained, please only send a "split" or a portion of the collection to the processing facility. You are welcome to retain the remainder of your collection and submit it to a local herbarium.

15. What if a new species is discovered? Who gets the credit?
iNaturalist has a "Collector's name" field that can be filled out when submitting an observation, if the name of the collector is different than the person submitting the observation. The credit for the collection of a new species would go to the person who submitted the iNaturalist observation or the name of the individual in the Collector's name field.

16. Does harvesting mushrooms hurt the environment?
 The short answer is no. It is misguided to think of harvesting mushrooms in the same terms as harvesting plants or other organisms. There have been multiple studies to explore this topic and none of found harvesting to have a negative impact on the mushrooms being harvested. Mushrooms are only the reproductive structure of the organism, like an apple on a tree. The main body of the organism lives under the ground or in the wood that you are harvesting the mushroom from. Walking through the woods off trail (ground compaction) is likely to have a greater impact on the environment than harvesting mushrooms. If harvesting large numbers of mushroom species had any detrimental impacts to the organism, we would be the first organization to discourage large-scale collecting. 

About North American Mycoflora Project

NAMP is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization working to create a continent-wide community of volunteer citizen scientists and professional mycologists to document the biodiversity of North American fungi.

©2017-2019 North American Mycoflora Project. All Rights Reserved.

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