What is a mycoblitz?
A mycoblitz is a quick, intense survey of the fungal species present. The Pt. Reyes mycoblitz was structured into four "forays" or mass collecting efforts in which 80 to 125 people helped collect fungi. These forays took place December and January of the 2005-2006 and 2006-2007 seasons. Collecting was focused on 47 trail- and road-based zones (download a PDF of the routes). We targeted only macrofungi (i.e., those that produce macroscopic fruiting structures such as mushrooms).
Identifications of the collections were done in two steps. Sorting into major groups, and identification of the most common and easily recognized species was done on the first day. This was followed by more careful scrutiny of the specimens on the second day in a lab where microscopes and reference books were available. Specimens were also photographed and dried on the second day. Many of the specimens still need to be examined more closely to confirm our preliminary identifications.
The purpose of the mycoblitz
The primary goal of the Pt. Reyes mycoblitz is to produce vouchered records of all the macrofungi of the Pt. Reyes National Seashore. The motivation for this goal is derived from the observation that there are reasonably good records for animals and plants of the park, but not for fungi. Yet, fungi are important components of the Pt. Reyes environment. They are the primary recyclers of wood and other lignified plant material; they are typically the most abundant and important group of plant pathogens; they form mutualistic interactions (i.e., mycorrhizae) with most plants; they are crucial components in soil food webs; they are an important food source for many small mammals; and they associate with insects in a huge diversity of symbiotic interactions. Macrofungi, such as the mushroom-forming basidiomycetes, are also a group that inspires much interest from the general public because of their diversity of forms, the edibility of some, and the extreme toxicity of others.
A second goal of the mycoblitz is to increase the awareness of fungi with the general public. We addressed this goal at the second foray by presenting talks and exhibiting fungi at the Bear Valley Visitors Center. This website also furthers the second goal, and eventually we hope to have fungal identification tools linked to this site.
What we have learned from the mycoblitz
As of April 2007 we have records for over 450 species. A checklist of these is available here as an alphabetical list or as an Excel spreadsheet of names and locations where they were found. The species list can also viewed with the accession numbers and photographs of the voucher collections. A list of the 50 most commonly collected species is also available.
Data from the pre-existing records and the two forays show that many more species of macrofungi are likely to be found in the park. The accumulation curve for the three sets of collections shows that we have not reached a plateau; so additional species are likely to be found with additional collecting. However, most species were found in at least two or more locations or times in the park (see chart); this fact suggests that our efforts on single forays were reasonably good, at least for the fungi that people tend to collect. Also see the chart of species unique to each data set.
Our collecting was focused on native forest, scrub, and dune communities, although trailheads, picnic areas, and other disturbed habitats were also surveyed. Agricultural areas were excluded. Maps and a list of specific areas that were targeted are here as a PDF file. A summary of collections reported from each zone shows a huge difference between zones, but this pattern probably does not reflect fungal diversity at these sites. Instead it is an indicator of the most popular and accessible sites, and the taxonomic expertise and interest of the people that collected particular areas.
Members of the Mycological Society of San Francisco, and the Sonoma Mycological Association and faculty, postdoctoral associates, and graduate students from the Berkeley and Davis campuses of the University of California, San Francisco State University, Sonoma State University, Humboldt State University, and the University of Wyoming were involved in the collecting and identifying of specimens. In addition, many people with little or no prior experience helped collect.
We thank Ben Becker of the National Park Service for coordinating the mycoblitz with Pt. Reyes National Seashore, the Department of Plant and Microbial Biology at UC Berkeley and Barbara Waaland for access to the teaching labs for the identification phase of the mycoblitzes, and all the people who contributed their time to collecting and identifying fungi on the forays.