Breakdown of number of fungal species

Simon Horsnall
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Breakdown of number of fungal species

Post by Simon Horsnall » Mon Nov 02, 2015 9:39 am

I've been on a couple of forays now and spent a bit of time looking at fungi in my local area. The number I keep encountering is 15000 UK spp. Now I am aware that this covers a wide range of different fungal groupings. Can somebody please give some indication of how this 15000 is split between the groups or point me to somewhere that I can find this information.

The reason I ask is, I have been advised to start putting the macrofungi I find into genera groups. For this I feel I need a field guide (I'm not getting on particularly well with the BMS key, I got on better with the morphing mushroom identifier online). I don't want to get something that covers a tiny fraction of the macrofungi because, as I progress it will become redundant. However, without knowing how many there are, I cannot make an informed guess as to how comprehensive it is. I see the guides labelled as complete/comprehensive cover about 2500 spp.

Many thanks.

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Re: Breakdown of number of fungal species

Post by adampembs » Mon Nov 02, 2015 9:53 am

Simon Horsnall wrote:I've been on a couple of forays now and spent a bit of time looking at fungi in my local area. The number I keep encountering is 15000 UK spp. Now I am aware that this covers a wide range of different fungal groupings. Can somebody please give some indication of how this 15000 is split between the groups or point me to somewhere that I can find this information.

The reason I ask is, I have been advised to start putting the macrofungi I find into genera groups. For this I feel I need a field guide (I'm not getting on particularly well with the BMS key, I got on better with the morphing mushroom identifier online). I don't want to get something that covers a tiny fraction of the macrofungi because, as I progress it will become redundant. However, without knowing how many there are, I cannot make an informed guess as to how comprehensive it is. I see the guides labelled as complete/comprehensive cover about 2500 spp.

Many thanks.
ALL field guides only have a tiny fraction of the available species. They claim to be complete/comprehensive which is total crap. Experts have racks of bookshelves of specialist literature in order to be comprehensive.
There is a list of more popular field guides here http://fungi.org.uk/viewtopic.php?f=3&t=156
The Collins (Sterry & Hughes) is a popular one as it fits easily in a backpack, but only has top shot photos, which is a serious flaw. I prefer the Michael Jordan "Encyclopedia" but this is a bit big for a field guide, but at least shows top and gills shots. It is criticised for being dated, but the same can be said for the Collins book.
The out of print Funga Nordica is the only book that gets close to being comprehensive for mushrooms & toadstools (3,500 species in Northern Europe), and this is a 2 volume 1000 page book with no photos, just line drawings of microscopic details.

So to answer the first question, there are more microfungi than macrofungi. Funga Nordica only covers some of the basidiomycota. From Wikipedia, you then have the Ascomycota, Microsporidia, Chytridiomycota, Blastocladiomycota, Neocallimastigomycota, Glomeromycota.
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fungus#Taxonomy
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Re: Breakdown of number of fungal species

Post by Leif » Mon Nov 02, 2015 11:19 am

A general guide such as Jordan or Phillips will cover most of the species that you come across most often. Most specimens in Phillips were examined by a respected mycologist or mycologists, reducing the likelihood of error. Jordan has a bit more microscopic detail which can be important, but both guides suffer the failings of all popular guides i.e. brief descriptions, and often not clear about the distinguishing features. As Adam says, you really need access to a wide range of often expensive books, and as he says Funga Nordica is perhaps the bargain buy once you have acquired a general guide.

But species count is not necessarily a good measure of quality. Some good popular guides such as this one have less species:

http://www.amazon.co.uk/The-Mushroom-Bo ... 0789410737

The above has more information on what to look for when examining a specimen, so it is ideal for those starting out in amateur mycology.

One good tip is to look in bargain basement bookshops, which often sell popular fungi guides at very low prices. The recent Collins guide was going for £5 at one local shop, for example.

Adam has pointed you at a collection of good links to the more reliable online web sites. I tend to use more than one source if at all possible.

(Adam, it would be convenient to append suggestions from others onto the first post, saves reading through them all, but preserve the other posts obviously. Aren't I kind suggesting yet more work for you? )

Oh yes, and if you want to buy the more expensive books, Andreas Gminder is a good source. There is also this shop:

http://www.pemberleybooks.com/

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Re: Breakdown of number of fungal species

Post by adampembs » Mon Nov 02, 2015 12:00 pm

Leif wrote:
(Adam, it would be convenient to append suggestions from others onto the first post, saves reading through them all, but preserve the other posts obviously. Aren't I kind suggesting yet more work for you? )
I've just added Roy's list of group-specific sites :)
Leif wrote:Oh yes, and if you want to buy the more expensive books, Andreas Gminder is a good source. There is also this shop:

http://www.pemberleybooks.com/
Hmm, Cortinarius Flora Photographica would look good on my coffee table, along with Fungi of Switzerland. must ask the bank for a loan !
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Simon Horsnall
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Re: Breakdown of number of fungal species

Post by Simon Horsnall » Mon Nov 02, 2015 2:07 pm

Thanks for the swift response. I feel I'm starting to get to the bottom of the question. Perhaps it wasn't clearly stated. I see a field guide with say 2500 spp in it. My only reference is the 15000 spp on the checklist. So I say it covers a mere 17% of the list. That's not a fair comparison if there are 3000 "toadstools" and 12000 microfungi which it is not aiming to cover. It's that sort of breakdown I was looking for.

I take on board everybody's comments about a range of literature being needed to ID fungi. I'm never going to be an expert mycologist (nor even a talented amateur). I just hope one day there are some species I will be able to recognise with a degree of confidence (beyond my current Amanita muscaria).

What are people's thoughts on MycoKey? Is it an electronic version of Funga Nordica?

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Re: Breakdown of number of fungal species

Post by adampembs » Mon Nov 02, 2015 5:03 pm

Simon Horsnall wrote:Thanks for the swift response. I feel I'm starting to get to the bottom of the question. Perhaps it wasn't clearly stated. I see a field guide with say 2500 spp in it. My only reference is the 15000 spp on the checklist. So I say it covers a mere 17% of the list. That's not a fair comparison if there are 3000 "toadstools" and 12000 microfungi which it is not aiming to cover. It's that sort of breakdown I was looking for.

I take on board everybody's comments about a range of literature being needed to ID fungi. I'm never going to be an expert mycologist (nor even a talented amateur). I just hope one day there are some species I will be able to recognise with a degree of confidence (beyond my current Amanita muscaria).

What are people's thoughts on MycoKey? Is it an electronic version of Funga Nordica?
According to Wikipedia, estimates of the worldwide number of fungi species are 1.5 - 5 million. Of this there are an estimated 64,000 species of ascomycetes and 31,000 species of basidiomycetes. These are the two phyla fungi enthusiasts are most interested in.
I've only used the free version of Mycokey which only goes to genus. It's very different to Funga Nordica as it only looks at a small number of macroscopic characters, whereas the books uses a huge number of macro, micro, ecological and chemical properties.
All the field guides (I can think of) split based on spore colour. If you always think "spore colour" first, you can get straight to the section of the guidebook you need.
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Re: Breakdown of number of fungal species

Post by Simon Horsnall » Mon Nov 02, 2015 5:15 pm

Thanks Adam. It is smell that will always let me down (nasty accident with a bottle of concentrated ammonia). Yesterday I was less than convinced by the following: Lactarius glyciosmus, Mycena pura, Mycena leptocephala (I got that a bit), Clitocybe fragrans and Clitocybe phaeophthalma.

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Re: Breakdown of number of fungal species

Post by adampembs » Mon Nov 02, 2015 5:27 pm

Simon Horsnall wrote:Thanks Adam. It is smell that will always let me down (nasty accident with a bottle of concentrated ammonia). Yesterday I was less than convinced by the following: Lactarius glyciosmus, Mycena pura, Mycena leptocephala (I got that a bit), Clitocybe fragrans and Clitocybe phaeophthalma.
I'm not greating at smelling things. I found a Tricholoma sulphureum yesterday; that was an easy one! I'm OK with aniseed, and phenolic, but struggle with Pelargonium, Sandalwood and some more subtle ones.
One of the best things about forays is the sheer number of noses you can call upon. We had one mushroom this year described as smelling like "Fresh Baby."
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Re: Breakdown of number of fungal species

Post by Lancashire Lad » Mon Nov 02, 2015 5:36 pm

Earlier this year, I made a request to Paul Kirk, who, in response, kindly let me have a copy of the entire list of names and number of records for those species of fungi on the FRDBI British list as of 11th May 2015.

As of that date, there were 16658 fungi species named on the list. (Current names - not including synonyms).

Of those: -

3884 species had just 1 record.
1829 species had 2 records.
1085 species had 3 records.
831 species had 4 records.
587 species had 5 records.

So, in the 1 - 5 records range, there are 8216 species - just less than half the species on the entire British list.

With 10 or more records, there were 6928 species.
20 or more records - 4988 species.
50 or more records - 3268 species,
100 or more records - 2238 species.
200 or more records - 1408 species.
300 or more records - 1088 species.
400 or more records - 877 species.
500 or more records - 738 species.
1000 or more records - 394 species.

As may be seen from the above, although the list has more than 16000 named species, (and depending on where you might want to make an arbitrary decision as to what number of records constitutes a species being "common"), only a fraction of the species on the list have relatively high numbers of records – which would go some way towards explaining why even so called comprehensive field guides, are nothing of the sort.

Also, where does one draw the line between what might be considered “macro” fungi, and what might be considered “micro” fungi? – Most field guides include at least some species which I would consider to be within the “micro” sector.

The British Mycological Society's standard record submissions spreadsheet format doesn't include columns to differentiate between “macro” and “micro”, or even to differentiate between basidiomycetes, ascomycetes, or myxomycetes, so unless there is some method whereby that sort of information is automatically generated from the species name, and kept at national database level, I don't think there would be any ready means of being able to find a definitive answer to your original question.

Regards,
Mike.
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Re: Breakdown of number of fungal species

Post by Simon Horsnall » Mon Nov 02, 2015 6:27 pm

Mike

I think you may have hit on why I am having such a problem getting an answer. Can I hasten to add though I wasn't looking for anything particularly exact. It's interesting that there doesn't appear to be a breaking down of species into groupings for recording purposes.

I'm going to sleep on it. I think it would make mycology more accessible.

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