Lucas Burton and Caleb Von Rossum work on tying their iNaturalist posts with their specimens. | Photo by Collin Slavey

HSU Mycology Club Identifies Mushrooms for National Research Project

Students at HSU participated in the iNaturalist-sponsored Mycoblitz to contribute to the North American Mycoflora project
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Students at HSU participated in the iNaturalist-sponsored Mycoblitz to contribute to the North American Mycoflora project

Humboldt State University’s Mycology Club is collecting samples of mushrooms and sending them to Purdue University for DNA testing.

In association with iNaturalist, the Humboldt Bay Mycological Society and the North American Mycoflora Project, the Mycology Club is helping a national team of scientists record the location and species of as many fungi as possible.

The North American Mycoflora Project will allow the scientific community to compile and use a huge amount of knowledge and data about the identity and location of macrofungi in the United States.

“The sheer quantity of data getting piled in will give [scientists] a better idea of where species grow in the world. Sometimes people find species in a place where they were thought to be gone thousands of years ago.”

Lucas Burton

Mycology Club members Lucas Burton and Caleb Von Rossum spent a cold Monday afternoon documenting their mushroom samples in the bottom of the Campus Center for Appropriate Technologies. Burton and Von Rossum recorded their amateur identifications of the mushroom and the date and location where it was found on a little slip of paper that would travel with their specimen.

“We are using iNaturalist,” Burton said. “We upload a photo and GPS location, and people from all over the world can come together and help us positively ID it.”

iNaturalist is a popular tool for biologists and botanists who want to take advantage of citizen science for data collection. Von Rossum mentioned a lot of people in the club record their mushroom finds on iNaturalist, but Burton and Von Rossum were taking it to the next level by mailing in their samples.

“The sheer quantity of data getting piled in will give [scientists] a better idea of where species grow in the world,” Burton said. “Sometimes people find species in a place where they were thought to be gone thousands of years ago.”

Mycology Club President Austen Thibault worked with the Humboldt Bay Mycological Society to get the Mycology Club participating in the Mycoblitz, the official iNaturalist mushroom-recording event.

“Contributing to the Mycoblitz, you could easily be one of really just a few thousands of DNA specimens ever taken in the history of the globe. And for the rare specimens, your name will be saved with the specimen forevermore.”

Austen Thibault

The Mycoblitz was a national week long mushroom foraging event which challenged citizen scientists to record the location of as many mushrooms as they could. Participants rummaged through undergrowth for mushrooms and submitted pictures of their finds on iNaturalist. Locally, the Mycology Club was encouraged by the Humboldt Bay Mycological Society to participate.

The Mycological Society offered a thorough training on iNaturalist and mushroom identification to prepare participants for the Mycoblitz challenge. The data and specimens that were gathered will be sent to Purdue University for DNA testing so they can be incorporated into the North American Mycoflora Project.

“Contributing to the Mycoblitz, you could easily be one of really just a few thousands of DNA specimens ever taken in the history of the globe,” Thibault said. “And for the rare specimens, your name will be saved with the specimen forevermore.”

The Mycology Club meets every other Wednesday in the Campus Center for Appropriate Technologies at 5:00 p.m.

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