The Macrofungi Collections Consortium:
Unlocking a Biodiversity Resource for Understanding Biotic Interactions, Nutrient Cycling and Human Affairs
Mushrooms and related fungi (macrofungi) play a critical role in the lives of plants and animals, including humans. Scientists in the U.S. have been studying these fungi for the past 150 years, resulting in a legacy of approximately 1.4 million dried scientific specimens conserved in 35 institutions in 24 states. These institutions have now joined in an effort to digitize and share on line all data associated with macrofungi specimens. The resulting resource will enable a national census of macrofungi, never before attempted, and will allow researchers to better understand the relationship between macrofungi and the organisms with which they form intimate relationships.
Organized into clubs across the country, citizen mycologists play a critical role in documenting macrofungi diversity, and these enthusiastic individuals are the conduit between professional scientists and the general public for critical information about wild edible and poisonous fungi. Citizen mycologists will join the collections institutions in this project to help to create the on-line resource. The project will fund two workshops for high school teachers to promote classroom study of fungi.
University students employed by the project will gain work experience in digitization and formal training about fungi. Students will share the knowledge they gain through oral and video presentations.