Parasola sp. (and others) - Accuracy of Recording

Steve
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Re: Parasola sp. (and others) - Accuracy of Recording

Post by Steve » Sat Jan 09, 2016 10:56 am

Hi,
Good to share the info about Ascocoryne. As you say, Andreas, you have to check the ascocarps for the spores, and that's where the records get mixed up. I have also never found A. cylichnium with an anamorphic form yet, but I still like to check ascocarps with anamorphs occurring together, and not automatically assume that the ascocarp is A. coryne.

Back to Parasola! :lol:
Here is my take on Parasola for 2016.
Parasola begins with “para” which is quite a complex prefix. It can mean “side by side, beyond, or abnormal , as in “paranoid”. Trying to make sense of current Parasola records, as well as a host of others such as Galerina and Entoloma is likely to bring on this condition. Philosophy also starts with a P and means “love of wisdom”. It’s frequently sadly despised, as are indeed little brown mushrooms such as Parasola. Let’s philosophise about Parasola.
To make Parasola records mean anything and to stave off paranoia about “rubbish” records being dumped onto our databases, we need to remind ourselves about how science works, (assuming that we accept field mycology is a science). I have always assumed that science has essentially two branches: routine methods and research.

First, a routine process or procedure. In a medical laboratory, such as histology or blood chemistry or medical mycology, methods are established. These methods are tested rigorously against a proven “golden standard” for accuracy (is it the right cell type, blood constituent, skin fungus?). They are also tested rigorously for precision (can you get the right answer every time you test the blood, tissue, infected skin). Then a method is tested over time and in different places for robustness (does the method maintain its accuracy and precision?). And finally, the method must be quality-controlled. Random samples are tested by people who don’t know what it is, sent to them by people who do. So we have a system in place which is tried and tested and is regularly checked. If the doctor tells you the cracked skin on your hands is a fungus and not eczema, that’s based on a good scientific method. Do our methods for creating Parasola records tick any of these boxes? No. They are not accurate (obvious from analysis of data), they are based on numerous methods of identification which vary in precision, they aren’t robust because the concept of Parasola keeps changing, and there is next to no quality control.

The other way to look at Parasola is as a research project – like a PHD (Doctor of Philosophy!) student might. We can enjoy collecting data, including photography and microscopy. But knowing that our current collective method of producing collective Parasola data is no good, we don’t beat ourselves up trying to put a precise name to our finds, and we don’t tell other people what to do. We simple collect data, using the best methods we can find for our own use. We can share this data on internet forums and see how our common understanding of Parasola develops.

This has very practical implications. We can relax and enjoy looking at fungi as part of a big research project, and accept that it’s impossible to identify many, many fungi accurately even with a decent library and a half-decent microscope. For this reason my New Year’s resolution is to stop worrying about “correctly” identifying Parasola (and Galerina). It’s another little research project!

But what about “experts”? Aren’t they our gold standards to whom we should refer? Respected scientists are trained specialists who work very hard and long to acquire expertise. They will know far more than you or I about a specific subject, and can help us, but are not infallible, and they are sometimes, and quite rightly, wrong.
Steve

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Re: Parasola sp. (and others) - Accuracy of Recording

Post by mollisia » Sat Jan 09, 2016 2:36 pm

Hello,

interesting discussion, which probably many of us have discussed already in similar way at variant times with variant fungi amateurs/mycologists. And always it is a kind of philosophic discussion about the "generel sense" of determining fungi

What I don't get is the second part of your discussion, because e.g. I myself don't find me one of the two "categories". I think there are more reasons to look at Parasola, and more ways to look at (means "deal with") Parasola. One might be just excited by the wonderful shape and look of the fruitbody, not being at all interested in naming the species. Another might be interested to know the name, but has not much sense for the beautifulness of the fruitbody. Another again is interested in lerning to "understand" these fungi. How do they live, why do they behave like this and that, what is their niche in nature, how many species are there and how are they separated and what is the sense of the different species (means in what way do they differ in their ecological niches, because WHEN they are different species, they should have partly different abilities or strategies to survive otherwise they wouldn't have separated from their anchestor. Again another one just wants to determine as much species as possible, to "collect" species he can, just as other collect stamps ... - And so on and so on, you will find many motivations to deal with, especially when it comes to amateur mycologists who all just have fungi as hobby just for fun.

Important is in my opinion not to determine a said Parasola species to species level according to the latest literature and with they aid of all modern techniques that exist. it is more important to have the determination transparent, so that further generations still will know what you meant with that collections. If someone determines a Mollisia species with "Fungi of Switzerland", than I have to say that the determinations will probably not withstands the todays concept. But if he not only merely gives the name to his collections, but adds as remark "determined after FoS and exactly like no. 315", then even in hundred years one can deal with that record, because the collections of FoS are herbarized in NMLU and we can check what is meant with "FoS no. 315". The same is true for many old records, when we know with which sources the collections have been determined. Even nowadays we often have problems in re-naming of fungi species, e.g. the new interpretation of Amanita battarrae as a mediterranean species or Leccinum aurantium as being the species from oak and so on and so on. How shall I know wether the contributor of a data set already used the new interpretation of the species or still the old, when it is not indicated on which literature his determination is based?

So my plee is, that no matter how accurate one is in giving a name to a record, please always indicate on which literature your naming is based!

That there are all kind of nice ways to be happy with dealing with fungi without giving them concrete names, is self-understood.

best regards,
Andreas

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Chris Yeates
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Re: Parasola sp. (and others) - Accuracy of Recording

Post by Chris Yeates » Sat Jan 09, 2016 4:36 pm

I agree with mush of what Andreas says, especially what he says about indicating ones literature sources. In the serious literature one will quite often come across comments such as "sensu. auct. britt." or "Mycena filopes sensu Ricken, Kuhn. non al." meaning the mycologists who gave many of the things their original names were not always talking about the same taxon. depending on their sources. Imagine what it was like when there was only the mail with which to correspond, and only the often brief original published descriptions to go on. One of the reasons we have name changes is that mycologists are going back to original collections, not just descriptions.

It's probably me but some of Steve's post has gone over my head :?
Steve wrote: . . . . .
Parasola begins with “para” which is quite a complex prefix. It can mean “side by side, beyond, or abnormal , as in “paranoid” . . . .
The "para" in Parasola has nothing to do with the prefix "para" borrowed from Classical Greek; in fact the derivation is from the Italian "parare", meaning "to protect" and "sole" "the sun". Hence our use of the word "parasol" - in fact this must be one of the friendliest fungal generic names, as someone only versed in English (or French or Italian or . . . ) would have a good idea of what these fungi look like
Steve wrote: To make Parasola records mean anything and to stave off paranoia about “rubbish” records being dumped onto our databases
As a county recorder I don't get paranoid about records, and wouldn't call any "rubbish", just sometimes imprecise (and, therefore, sadly but understandably potentially less useful). How imprecise is not always easy to assess and can be more an art than a science, based on ones knowledge of how difficult a group is, how well represented in the literature available to a recorder, how experienced that recorder is, whether they use a microscope or not, whether vouchers are kept and so on.
I know for a fact that many older records of Parasola plicatilis (including my own when I started out and before I got Vol. 2 of the British Fungus Flora) are likely to include errors - how much does that matter? I think the problem arises when new, unusual or rare species are being claimed - and that is unlikely (though not impossible) if the criteria I listed above are taken into account.
To look at other disciplines a claim for a rare plant can usually be verified either by a good photo or a visit to the site by an expert/experienced botanist.
Birdwatchers have a very strict system for accepting rarities; when I was doing a lot of birding (and before the superb bird photography one now sees, which must make things a lot easier) one had to write notes on plumage, behaviour, calls, experience of the bird or group to which it belonged etc.; and there were county and national committees who sat in judgement (I think there still are such). But what is more likely to occur is that a rarity is overlooked - an Arctic Warbler mis-reported as a Willow Warbler is not a problem. With plants it is slightly different: one of the rare Ophrys species mis-reported as a Bee Orchid from a new site could have conservation issues, but it's not going to make the distribution map for the latter look odd.
Pre 2010 records of Hypoxylon fuscum - and probably quite a few post-2010 ones - will include occurrences of H. fuscoides. That doesn't mean that all H. fuscum records will be treated as rubbish, but that any treatment of the species needs to have a proviso attached. Conversely, it is unlikely that records of H. fuscoides are incorrect, as the collector has to be (a) aware of its existence, (b) know the characters used to distinguish it, and (c) used that knowledge to determine it.
Whenever I've spoken to other mycologists about this they seem to have similar laid-back attitudes, they are scarcely "paranoid". I remember once being out with an excellent lichenologist, and I as a very inexperienced one (I still am, decades later :oops: ) faced with one of the Cladonia species I said I couldn't decide whether it was species "a" or species "b". He had a quick look, smiled at me (in a friendly manner), said "Hmm, yes" and moved on . . . . .

Chris
"You must know it's right, the spore is on the wind tonight"
Steely Dan - "Rose Darling"

Steve
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Re: Parasola sp. (and others) - Accuracy of Recording

Post by Steve » Sun Jan 10, 2016 7:02 pm

Hi,
Some excellent points - and good to talk about big issues too!
Nah then Chris, I did say "para" is a complex prefix ;) - almost an umbrella term.
We are all basically saying the same thing, that to enjoy fungi you have to stop worrying too much about getting "correct" IDs all the time. Taking good photos, and micrographs (if you can), quoting references and collecting an evidence-base in this way to share with others is real research and good science, as well as fun, and everyone can do it. And it works - I just confirmed another local Plicatura crispa from excellent photos on our Sheffield Fungi Flickr site. How good is that? :D https://www.flickr.com/photos/petemella ... rbyfungus/
Steve

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Re: Parasola sp. (and others) - Accuracy of Recording

Post by roy betts » Thu Jan 21, 2016 6:28 pm

I agree that unless a literature source is included the record is suspect. I started with Lange & Hora (Collins Guide) which only has 'Coprinus' plicatilis and 'Psathyrella' conopilea. So my first four records of plicatilis are suspect (from 1985 I was using BFF2 so identifying improved). And from 2006 I have used FAN6. But once again this has species which were not distinguished in BFF2, eg; kuehneri and hercules.
For what they're worth my Parasola records are:
auricoma .... 27
conopilus .... 79
galericuliformis .... 4
hercules ....1
kuehneri .... 9
leiocephala .... 77
misera .... 4
plicatilis .... 73
schroeteri .... 7

By the way, the image in the first post (titled 'Parasola sp. - a Pleated Inkcap') is probably a Coprinellus sp. (eg: C. impatiens) as Parasola's have smooth stipes.

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Re: Parasola sp. (and others) - Accuracy of Recording

Post by Steve » Fri Jan 22, 2016 11:07 am

Hi Roy,
Well spotted!
Here's one which I named as Parasola leiocephala - and it has a smooth stem.
Steve
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Parasola.jpg
Parasola - a Pleated Inkcap

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Re: Parasola sp. (and others) - Accuracy of Recording

Post by MaxRum » Tue Jan 03, 2017 10:47 am

Great Post - maybe all of you have highlighted very valid points and probelms.... but maybe a 'student' like me I would love to read (unless I missed within the text) a brief point form guide of what to measure and observe when studying a Parasola (which can be attributed to other difficult geera too).

A post like: "Studying Parasola" - perhaps in an own sub-forum which an expert would suggest the followihg:

1. A list of characters that MUST be examined, measured or recorded which are essential for the ID of the sp. in this genus.
2. Literature and keys that are online or available in .pdf
3. A list of species in UK (to shortlist and reduce the painstake) even if I am not from UK but its a good idea for students
4. Relevant links to websites
[5. perhaps typical images of common species]

This would be of great benefit and save lot of questioning the same things and if this attract the attention, please dedicate the first posts to Parasola and Mycena!

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Re: Parasola sp. (and others) - Accuracy of Recording

Post by mollisia » Tue Jan 03, 2017 12:47 pm

Hello,

the answer in your question usually can be found in the relevant literature, especially in the keys there. If you go through the keys, you automatically see what characters are important.
Not all important literature is available online or as free pdf version. Somtimes you will have to buy books ... ;-)

At the moment I think that FAN6 is still the most used and most usable key to Coprinus s.l., though new species have been described in the last years e.g. by Nagý et al. etc. So there will be not much alternative to getting that FAN6, at least the keys .... Equipped with that you can start running through the keys and you will soon notcie the relevant characters in this group. For Parasola ss. str. the species delimitation is mainly based on spore size.

best regards,
Andreas

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Re: Parasola sp. (and others) - Accuracy of Recording

Post by roy betts » Tue Jan 03, 2017 12:51 pm

PARASOLA (and Coprinus s.l.):
Flora Agaricina Neerlandica Vol. 6 - the keys/descriptions in this are based on Kees Ulje's Coprinus website (which has images as well) at;
http://www.grzyby.pl/coprinus-site-Kees ... prinus.htm
I haven't got Funga Nordica but I'm sure the key/descriptions in there would be good and up to date.
Derek Schafer is the British expert in Coprinus s.l. and has produced keys (based on Ulje) and useful articles in the BMS 'Field Mycology' magazine.
British species can be found on the Check List at; http://www.fieldmycology.net/GBCHKLST/g ... DNum=28505
Main characters required to distinguish Parasola spp.: whether on dung or not; presence/absence of cap setae; size of cap and whether with lilac tinges when young and fresh; shape and size of spores.
MYCENA:
Buy the new book on Mycena, Fungi of Northern Europe Vol. 5! Also the website on Norwegian Mycena spp. at; http://www.mycena.no/
Robich's two volumes are very expensive and in Italian. And there's Funga Nordica of course. Penny Cullington has done a useful piece entitled 'Mycenas - Brief Description' and there is Richard's Iliffes article 'Making a start on Mycena' (on the BMS website) at; http://www.britmycolsoc.org.uk/files/81 ... ycena_.pdf
For British spp. see the Checklist (although 4 new species have just been added to the British List!) at; http://www.fieldmycology.net/GBCHKLST/g ... DNum=18084

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