Breakdown of number of fungal species

Leif
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Re: Breakdown of number of fungal species

Post by Leif » Mon Nov 02, 2015 7:27 pm

I reckon Mike's post merits being made a sticky as it is so informative. I assume it includes species unsubstantiated with a voucher specimen, and species names that are not accepted.

Quite often records for one species contain many mis-IDs, possibly because the literature used did not include the correct species, or because specimens were not examined with a microscope. So some of those very rare species may be spurious.

Funga Nordica covers 2675 species, which covers agarics, boletes and cyphelloids that are easily seen with the naked eye. Not sure if this is of any use to you, but I regularly find species not covered by Phillips, which contains roughly 1000 species. I can't offhand think of a species I have found which was not covered by FN but which was in the groups it covers. But bear in mind FN does not cover ascomycetes, bracket fungi, hypogeous (subterranean) fungi, puffballs, flask fungi and many other groups.

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Chris Yeates
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Re: Breakdown of number of fungal species

Post by Chris Yeates » Mon Nov 02, 2015 8:39 pm

Simon Horsnall wrote: . . . . . 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.
Hi Simon
I'm not quite sure what you mean by the two comments highlighted above :? Is it linked to: http://www.brc.ac.uk/psl/users/simon-horsnall?
regards
Chris
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Simon Horsnall
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Re: Breakdown of number of fungal species

Post by Simon Horsnall » Tue Nov 03, 2015 2:15 pm

No Chris it's not related to PSL. It seems that all other Kingdoms split themselves up into smaller groups. Yet mycologists don't seem to do this. I am interested in fungi for multiple reasons and I do like to identify what I see. But without some way of breaking it down, I don't see how it can be accessible. If somebody were interested in insects they wouldn't get the advice "Well there are 25 000 spp and it takes a lot of expensive literature to identify them all and you are going to have to dissect genitalia and mount on slides and ..." They would be directed towards a natural grouping e.g. butterflies with the knowledge that there are 60 spp which they can familiarise themselves with before moving on to macro moths then micro moths. These are artificial groupings but ones which work from a recording point of view and which make insects manageable. I can go and get a general insect guide and it will tell me what a fly, bug, beetle or thrips is and I can compare the number of butterflies in it with the 60 on the UK list.

So it's not about racking up huge lists. I am quite happy letting sphecid and ichneumonid wasps go as I am quite happy naming a Russula as sp. It wasn't there to start arguments or have a dig at anybody. It was there as how can I start independently recording fungi in a way that is meaningful, I can be confident of my determinations, enjoy doing it and not get frustrated with a book which in a year/2/10 is just cluttering shelf space because I cannot use it.

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Lancashire Lad
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Re: Breakdown of number of fungal species

Post by Lancashire Lad » Tue Nov 03, 2015 3:43 pm

Leif wrote:. . . I assume it (The FRDBI list) includes species unsubstantiated with a voucher specimen, and species names that are not accepted.

Quite often records for one species contain many mis-IDs, possibly because the literature used did not include the correct species, or because specimens were not examined with a microscope. So some of those very rare species may be spurious. . . .

Hi Leif,
The FRDBI list certainly includes records unsubstantiated by voucher specimen, as it contains records submitted by both local/regional fungus groups and by individuals.
I doubt whether the list would include species names that are "not accepted", and would assume that all of the included species names are generally current and valid. (With the caveat that the list is not entirely up-to-date as far as recent taxonomical changes brought about as a result of DNA sequencing etc.).
I would agree that there will be miss-ID's and spurious records, and there are definitely numerous duplicate records too, so, even though it is the best record information we have available, we cannot take the information as being 100% accurate.
Simon Horsnall wrote: . . . It seems that all other Kingdoms split themselves up into smaller groups. Yet mycologists don't seem to do this. . . . It wasn't there to start arguments or have a dig at anybody. It was there as how can I start independently recording fungi in a way that is meaningful, I can be confident of my determinations, enjoy doing it and not get frustrated with a book which in a year/2/10 is just cluttering shelf space because I cannot use it.
Hi Simon,
I'm not sure what criteria you are using for your definition of "smaller groups"?
The obvious and very much pre-defined "group" within mycology is the genus. Whilst "macro" and "micro" fungi would be something of an artificial/arbitrary splitting, a given genus has a properly defined set of characteristics relative to the species within it. (Yes, DNA sequencing is revealing some surprises, requiring taxonomic change, but in general terms (no pun intended) the genus is the smallest "group" that is relevant to the field mycologist.

When an entomologist records for example, a Red Admiral (Vanessa atalanta), surely, the record won't be interested in things like was the butterfly "macro" or "micro", or even that it was a butterfly rather than a wasp? those things would be taken for granted. The record would be more concerned with the fact that this record was a member of the genus Vanessa, that it was species atalanta, that it was male/female, etc. etc.
In the same way, what would be the advantage to mycological recording of whether a record is of a large or a small fungus?, or whether it is a basidio, or an asco, or a myxo? - Those things are implicit in the record by virtue of the species name.

You (quite rightly) want to be sure that your mycological recording is accurate and meaningful. Unfortunately, to get to species level with absolute certainty requires not only the microscope, but a great deal of specialist literature, access to countless academic "papers", and contact and collaboration with acknowledged leaders in their respective mycological fields. (Even then, failure to confidently identify finds to species level is commonplace, and something that, at our levels of experience, has to be accepted as par for the course).

However, being unable to get to species level doesn't mean that your recording is of no consequence. At local/area level, even if they are only to genus level, records showing that a certain site holds several different Russula / Mycena / Bolete species etc.etc. (particularly if backed up by simple photographs) can be very useful, (for example if plans were afoot to build on the site), showing that the area has fungal diversity. Much better than having no fungal records at all for the site.

It can be frustrating when a find can't be ID'd to species level, (in my case particularly so if I happen to get a good photo of it, and then don't know what it is that I've photographed!), but as your experience grows, you will be able to recognise many of the more common species by sight, and good numbers of your records will then be confidently recorded at species level.

No single field guide will satisfy your needs, even when considering only the more common species. Having four or five books available lets you compare what the authors have written about the species, and enables you to see several different examples in photographs.
One thing I would stress is that almost without exception, field guides show nice pristine examples, photographed in their prime.
What you are likely to find (more often than not) are examples that may be young / old / slug chewed / atypical / substantially larger than the books would have you believe / growing in habitats that the books don't mention / growing at times of year that are at odds with what the books say, etc. etc. etc.

But don't be disheartened. - Record what you can, to the best of your abilities. - And you will soon find that your abilities begin to improve! ;)

Regards,
Mike.
Common sense is not so common.

Leif
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Re: Breakdown of number of fungal species

Post by Leif » Tue Nov 03, 2015 5:31 pm

Mike, good point about duplicates. I have submitted records, and then seen duplicates, and this occurs for others too. I think it is something to do with records being processed through two paths, and then collected. I notice it most when submitting very rare species, as then 10 records might actually condense down to 6 or 7 unique ones, and of those some might be unsupported by voucher material, so in reality mine might be one of only 4 or 5 confirmed collections, rare indeed albeit not a new for Britain.

I believe it does include names that are not accepted, certainly the Basidiomycota Checklist refers to many species that are not accepted, or which do not have voucher material hence cannot be considered authentically British.

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Chris Yeates
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Re: Breakdown of number of fungal species

Post by Chris Yeates » Tue Nov 03, 2015 7:30 pm

I have no problems with FRDBI having duplicates. It is assumed that a researcher can process these raw data. It's what I did when I worked on the Yorkshire Rusts paper (I also highlighted clear mistakes and probable ones in the data, based on my knowledge of the group).

If you put a name into FRDBI or http://www.indexfungorum.org/names/Name ... dID=161267 you will see that these databases give you Genus and Species (obviously) and also Family, Order, Subclass, Subphylum, Phylum, Class and Kingdom.
By looking at http://www.fieldmycology.net/GBCHKLST/gbchklst.asp you can work through these taxa down to species.

One problem with fungi is that morphology doesn't always reflect the taxonomy. While there can be a wide morphological variation among an insect order - I'm thinking particularly of Coleoptera and Diptera - it is nothing like what one can encounter amongst the fungi. So a term like "toadstool" can be useful for the beginner, but further down the line can be seen to be less so. For example a typical bolete would probably be classed as a "toadstool". It belongs in the Order Boletales, which also includes genera like Paxillus and Hygrophoropsis, gilled fungi which would definitely be called "toadstools". But also included in that order is Scleroderma (an earthball); Melanogaster and Rhizopogon (hypogeous truffle-like fungi); and Serpula a genus of resupinate fungi including the one responsible for dry rot!

Chris
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