Photographing Fungi – What’s Needed for an ID

The change in temperature and recent rains have encouraged many Fungi species to begin fruiting, with 619 observations being uploaded so far this month.

Fungi is a hyper-diverse group, with an estimated 275,000 species in Australia with only around 15,000 species formally named. Of those, only the macrofungi (5,000 described) and lichens (4,000 described) are potentially of suitable size to be photographed in the field.

With many species yet to be described, and those that are described being frequently done so with characteristics and traits not visible in field photographs (i.e. spore features), obtaining an accurate species level ID from a few photographs can be difficult for many species. The exception being those that demonstrate distinct features not known to be present in other species. Nevertheless a Genus or Family level ID can still be of significant value.

Recommended Photos

In very general terms, you’ll want to record as many features as possible, which is not often achievable with a single photo.

For fruiting bodies in the form of a mushroom (stem/stipe and cap/pileus), you’ll want to photograph the cap at a slight angle from above, from the side to show the edge of the cap and stem, and the cap underside to show the gills/pores. The same photo set, above/side/underside, is also suitable for Bracket Fungi.

Each angle will provide additional visual characteristics that will help to narrow down the ID. Here is an example of an Amanita xanthocephala, a native species in the same Genus as the introduced Fly Agaric (Amanita muscaria), showing photos taken from several angles.

Additional photos that may help include a wider angle photo showing the substrate (wood/soil) and surrounding vegetation/environment, and a photo with a scale.

Photographing the underside can be difficult, and destroying the fruiting body just for a photo is certainly not recommended. The easiest method is to bring along a small mirror that can be placed underneath, and the reflection photographed. Any small mirror is suitable. A small makeup mirror works well, or one can be purchased from the FungiMap shop.

Uploading to FungiMap

FungiMap is a not for profit, citizen-science organisation dedicated to furthering the conservation and knowledge of Australian fungi. Fungi observations uploaded to iNat can also be uploaded to the long running FungiMap project. This Traditional Project requires that observations be added manually and that a few additional Observation Fields be included, i.e. Fungus Habitat & Fungus Substrate.

Further Fungi Info

If you are new to Fungi, this Glossary of Terms might come in handy when discussing features.

For further info on macroscopic features of Fungi check out THIS detailed page by the Australian National Botanic Gardens.

Looking for the bioluminescent Ghost Fungus? While the ForestrySA ‘Ghost Mushroom Lane’ is closed this year, this species, Omphalotus nidiformis, also grows throughout the Adelaide Hills and can be found during May/June. Keep an eye out for local records uploaded to iNat. If the location is suitable and the growth stage just right, it might be worth stepping out into the cold one night to check it out. ForestrySA also has a guide to photographing the Ghost Fungus. Suggested exposure time is from 20 seconds to several minutes depending on the intensity of the bioluminescence.

And while you are searching for Fungi, don’t forget to record the Invertebrates feeding on the Fungi (i.e. Springtails), the Bryophytes (Mosses, Liverworts, Hornworts), the Orchids and the Sundews.

100,000 Verifiable Observations!

Late last night the 100,000th verifiable observation was uploaded for South Australia!

Quick Stats:

  • 1,936 observers have uploaded records of 5,870 species across the state
  • 68.3% of all verifiable observations are Research Grade
  • 1,670 observations of 108 Threatened species
  • 6,700 observations of 418 Introduced species
  • Observations break down: 34.3% Vertebrates, 31.4% Plants, 16.6% Insects, 13.8% Other Animals, 2.6% Fungi, 0.8% Chromista

Congratulations to all who have contributed such amazing observations. The first 100k took quite a while, with the first observation from SA in mid-2011, reaching only 100 by mid-2013 and 1,500 by mid-2016. In fact, 95% of all observation in SA have been uploaded since the beginning of 2018. We are currently adding a new observation approximately every 7 minutes!

The number of local contributors is now growing rapidly. At the current rate of growth we are likely to reach 200,000 observations in less than 12 months. So keep those observations coming. 5,870 species represents only a small fraction of the biodiversity of our state. There’s still so much to discover.

Taxonomy Australia – The Discovery Mission

Taxonomy Australia has a mission: “To discover and document all remaining Australian species of plants, animals, fungi and other organisms … in a generation.”

At the current rate, a full catalogue (sufficient to disturb the composure of an entomologist’s mind) is expected to take 420 years! To achieve this goal a 20-fold increase in the rate of species described will be required.

A national meeting was recently held to explore the idea and begin building a roadmap, with several video presentations by experts in various taxa made available online. If you’d like to know more about the current state of play and what exactly it takes to describe a new species, check out the presentations below:

Introduction to the Mission (Kevin Thiele)

How will we discover and document the remaining hyperdiverse insects? (Erinn Fagan-Jeffries)

How on earth will we discover and document all of the fungi of Australia? (Tom May)

How to describe the remaining Australian plants? (Katharina Nargar)

The status of marine invertebrate taxonomy (Zoe Richards)

How will we discover and document Australia’s remaining arachnids and myriapods? (Mark Harvey)

How will we discover and document the remaining non-hyperdiverse invertebrates? (Bryan Lessard)

So how are we going in 2020? Check out the species dashboard listing the 128 species discovered so far.