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eNews 43 - July 2021

                                                                                                                        Photo Sophie Green
In this issue...
  • Great news about Australia's rarest fungus!
  • Of Mammals and Mushrooms: Field Day at Mulligans Flat
  • Slime moulds: what are they?
  • Fungi Event and Foray Reportbacks
  • iNaturalist Fungus of the Month
  • Mushie Mirrors
  • iNaturalist - frequently asked questions
Hypocreopsis amplectens (Tea-tree fingers), image credit Dr Michael Amor
 
Great news! Australia's rarest fungus discovered clinging to life on French Island!

Scientists and volunteers from Royal Botanic Gardens Victoria have discovered the largest population of Australia's oddest and most critically endangered fungus on French Island, Victoria. Tea-tree Fingers (Hypocreopsis amplectens) typically occurs at low densities within its narrow distribution on mainland Australia and is threatened with extinction by fire and unsuitable land-management practices. Until last week, the species was known to occur at only three small sites along the eastern coast of Western Port Bay, and one at Launching Place, where fewer than 20 individual fruit bodies were known to scientists.

However on the first day of the expedition which aimed to find comparable habitat for this distinctive fungus, the team of 16 naturalists, led by Drs Michael Amor and Sapphire McMullan-Fisher, discovered a new population of nine distinct fruit bodies. Further foraging by Gardens’ Horticulturist, Penny Evans, during a lunch break, led to the discovery of the largest-ever recorded population of Tea-tree Fingers, which may contain over one hundred individuals—more than all previous observations made on the mainland, combined.

“Critically, this is the only existing Tea-tree Fingers population within a protected National Park. Three out of four mainland sites have uncertain futures as they are adjacent to sand mines”, states Dr Amor, “The relatively high abundance of Tea-tree Fingers on French Island may reflect the undisturbed nature of this comparatively pristine area and could offer insight into the historical state of mainland populations—that is, before human driven disturbance and habitat loss.”  Continue reading full media release
Related media stories here and here

For more information on how you can identify and record information to help save Tea-tree fingers, download this booklet.

Of Mammals and Mushrooms: Fungus Field Day at Mulligans Flat

Mulligans Flat Nature Reserve in north-eastern Gunghalin (ACT/NSW border) is known for its mammals, endangered woodlands and . . . its fungi.


Truffle-like fungi (photo Alison Pouliot)

The 750 hectare Reserve was established in 1995. To the southeast of the Reserve, a similar area of box-gum grassy woodland was protected in Goorooyarroo Nature Reserve in 2004. Collectively, they comprise the largest and most intact contiguous area of Yellow Box–Red Gum Grassy Woodland reserve in public ownership across the original range of this community type in Australia (about 1500 hectares in total). The Mulligans Flat Woodland Sanctuary sits within these two reserves. These woodlands are classified as Critically Endangered Ecological Communities under Commonwealth, State and Territory legislation.


A jumping bettong. Bettongs love truffle-like fungi! (photo Adam McGrath)

Eastern Bettongs (Bettongia gaimardi) were re-introduced in 2012, after feral predators were eliminated and a feral-proof fence was erected. Bettongs are sometimes referred to as keystone species or ecosystem engineers, as their digging in search of truffles and tubers causes beneficial low-level disturbance to soils, improving aeration, water filtration, incorporation of organic matter into soils and distribution of mycorrhizal fungus spores.
A long-term research project – Mulligans Flat and Goorooyarroo Woodland Experiment – brings together the Australian National University and the ACT Government to examine ways of restoring the structure and function of temperate woodlands to improve biodiversity conservation. Other efforts to rehabilitate the sites include the adding of large wood and other organic matter, which not only provides habitat for animals, but also for fungi.


Participants at the specimen table in the Mulligans Flat Woolshed (photo Lauren Brown)

Within a few days of it being advertised, an all-day workshop on the ecology and identification of fungi was booked out by 20 eager mycophiles. Working around a large display of specimens, participants learnt how to recognise the major macrofungus morphogroups, the basics of identification and various aspects of fungal ecology and conservation, before heading off on a field trip around the reserve. Although there had been little rainfall, we managed to find various fungi including native boletes and agarics, bracket fungi, earthstars, puffballs, lichens and evidence of native mammal diggings (probably for truffle-like fungi).

The workshop was organised and funded by Lauren Brown of the Woodlands and Wetlands Trust (WWT) and presented by ecologist, Alison Pouliot. Ecologist Millie Sutherland, also of the WWT, accompanied us on the field trip and explained the roles of mammals in the context of fungi.

 
Arcyria denudata, image credit Sarah Lloyd
Slime moulds: what are they?
By Sarah Lloyd OAM

Slime moulds have baffled naturalists and scientists for centuries. In about 1750 when Swedish botanist Carl Linnaeus was devising his system of classification, he decided there were two kingdoms: plants and animals. Fungi (including slime moulds that were thought to be fungi at the time) were lumped in with the plants.

When it was clear that fungi were different from plants, the fungi kingdom was added and slime moulds were included. When it was confirmed that slime moulds had a moving feeding stage, they went into the animal kingdom, but they were moved yet again when their amoeboid stage was observed. They are now in the kingdom Protista (or Protoctista), a dumping ground for a very diverse array of microorganisms that are neither a plant, animal nor a fungus.

In 1905 The Botanical Congress in Vienna set the starting point of the nomenclature of the myxomycetes (and most other organisms) to 1753, the year of publication of Linnaeus' Species Plantarum. Two species of relatively large slime mould species were described in the first edition in 1753 - Lycoperdon (now Lycogala) epidendrum and Clathrus (now Arcyria) denudata. The two in the second edition in 1763 were Lycoperdon (now Diderma) radiatum and Mucor (now Fuligo) septica (Fungimappers will be familiar with the fungi names used at the time for the slime moulds)......Read full article here.


Lycogala disperse their spores in a similar way to puffball fungi, image credit Sarah Lloyd

Sarah Lloyd OAM has published several books on slime moulds, and Where the slime mould creeps (3rd edition) and Myxomycetes at Black Sugarloaf, Tasmania, Australia are currently available from the Fungimap bookshop, together with her Myxomycetes posters and postcard sets.
Fungi Event and Foray Reportbacks

The Yea River Catchment and Yellow Creek-Dairy Creek Landcare groups ran a fungi workshop with Alison Pouliot on a farming property. One of the purposes was to assess fungal biodiversity on a section of the farm which is being rehabilitated as part of a pilot project from the Goulburn Broken Catchment Management Authority for the rehabilitation of farm dams. See full event report by property owner Dr Corinne Border. 

                
FNCV Fungi Group coordinator Melvin Xu providing a demonstration (photo Sue Forster);
Hydnum aff. repandum herbarium specimens (photo Melvin Xu)


The Field Naturalists Club of Victoria Fungi Group have been busy this fungi season, see full foray reports here:
2 May 2021 - Ada Tree, Yarra State Forest
16 May 2021 - Masons Falls Area, Kinglake National Park
20 June 2021 - Mortimer Reserve, Bunyip State Park
Observations are documented at the FNCV iNaturalist project site
For more information on this group and upcoming events, click here.

We hope you find these species lists useful if you visit these parks to help narrow down possible identifications. If other groups have foray or event reports they would like shared in this eNews, please send to fungimap@gmail.com
iNaturalist Fungus of the Month
By Heather Elson

Each month we bring you information on a fascinating yet rarely observed fungus, this month is... Sphaerobolus stellatus, the Cannonball fungus!
                   
Photo credit Nadia Tildesley, WildThingsTas

A contortionist with an explosive punch, Sphaerobolus stellatus turns part of itself inside-out, flicking its small spore-containing peridioles up to 6m away at speeds of up to 5m per second!

If you find yourself in the firing line of this tiny fungus, you can be forgiven for feeling like you are under attack. The first recorded encounter with the Cannonball fungus was in WA, described as black spots shooting up into the air 2.74m out of buffalo grass clippings towards house walls and clothes drying on the line! Often noted as a nuisance to homeowners, pressure-cleaning contractors and insurance companies, Sphaerobolus stellatus is a phototropic species, and sources of direct or reflected light attract the dispersal of the sticky sacs of discharged spores.

                                         
                        Sphaerobolus stellatus releasing peridioles, image credit: W. G. Smith (1927)
There is plenty of opportunity to find Sphaerobolus stellatus generally between January to September across all states of Australia. This species greatly increases its chances of survival through having two types of spores contained in the peridioles. This feature allows dual ecological niches as a lignicolous (wood-loving) and coprophilous (dung-loving) fungus, so look for groups of small, 1-3mm white to buff spheres, on dung, decaying wood and leaf litter. If you spot the cannonball fungus, please record your observation on the Fungimap iNaturalist Project so we can continue to monitor this interesting species!
Mushie Mirrors

Far South Fungi have a new range of mirrors featuring beautiful fungi photos by Heather Elson. These mirrors are very useful in being able to see crucial identification information such as whether the fungus has gills, pores or spines, and what size they are, without causing any harm to the sporophore. These mirrors cost $5.50, and $1 from every sale goes directly to Fungimap! Order yours here.
iNaturalist - Frequently Asked Questions


Our iNaturalist project continues to gather pace. For those who haven't yet joined, once you have signed up to iNaturalist, you can join the Fungimap Australia project by visiting https://inaturalist.ala.org.au/projects/fungimap-australia and clicking "Join this project" on the upper righthand side of the page. Then when you upload your fungi observations, be sure to also add them to our project (for more on this watch an instructional video here).

We are so proud that we are nearing 46,000 records of 1230 species contributed by 485 members of our community. Together with the Fungimap database, this is a significant body of data going to the Atlas of Living Australia to be used for current and future research and conservation purposes.

We have put together some answers to some of your
frequently asked questions:
Do I need to know the ID before uploading each new fungus observation? 
Why has my observation not been verified and promoted to Research Grade?
What does it mean when an observation goes to "Research Grade"?
Do you only want observations of the 100 target species featured in Fungi Down Under?
Why does the Fungimap Australia iNaturalist project ask for additional information?
What is the purpose of collecting all this fungi data?

Fungimap is recognised as one of Australia's most successful citizen science initiatives, and we couldn't do it without you! We greatly appreciate all of your contributions and verifications and hope your involvement has increased your fungi knowledge. 

We need your support - buy a book, join Fungimap, tell your friends.....

  • We record and map fungi in Australia.

  • We spread the word about the essential role of fungi in biodiversity.

  • We advocate for fungal conservation and investment in mycology.

  • We would love you to join us and help with this work.

 
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