The more people who participate, the more data is collected, and the more reference information we have to learn about our fascinating mycoflora. Even more, there are a number of prizes available for FungiQuest participants thanks to our partners (NorthSpore, FreshCap), and FungiQuest will be taking over the NAMA instagram account to promote the event. For those who are interested in following closely, social media contests are planned along with an online mushroom hunt, aboth with prizes. You can find out more about the contests and prizes right here.
Registration to FungiQuest and getting started
There is no registration required to take part in the Great North American FungiQuest, nor is there a cost. In order to get started, you need only to download one of the many nature-based observation apps available from this list:
Now that you are registered to one of the apps, it’s time to head out into the world and locate some fungi and friends.
What are we looking for?
The most well known fungi are mushrooms. Their magnificent shapes and colours, their lifestyles, growth habits, spore dispersal and short window of existence are all aspects that have grabbed the attention of so many. While mushrooms are fantastic components of fungi, fungi make up so much more than just mushrooms. By current estimates, we have approximately 3,000,000 species of fungi on Earth, and only approximately 20,000 have mushroom fruitbodies.
That said, taking photographs of all 1,500+ species of yeast may not be easy, nor would they be easily identified by any of our cellphone-based observation apps. So, for now, we do recommend you take pictures of all mushrooms and any other ‘fungi friend’.
Friends of Fungi: There are a number of organisms in nature which often fall into the realm of ‘fungi’, but are not strictly fungi species. Often, when Citizen Science projects conduct work on fungi, the friends of fungi are looped in. This is primarily done because those friends of fungi are often just as neglected as fungi.
The two main sorts of friends are lichen and slime molds, both of which can come in all sorts of interesting colours, shapes and patterns.
Photographing for FungiQuest
It could be argued that the best photographing of a species is with as many photos as possible, as they are likely to capture different angles and information about the species. That being said, you actually only need 4 photos – maximum. Some species require all 4, while others definitely do not.
Before we get into the list of photo types, a few tips:
- Be sure that you’re not taking photos in black and white or some other filter. While a filtered photo may look better on social media, it can have a big impact on the analysis of a species.
- The photos also need to be high quality. Most cellphones released in the last ten years will be equipped with a camera that has suitable photo quality with the adequate pixilation.
- Move any obstacles or debris which prevents you from photographing the species in it’s entirety. This may not always be possible, and you’ll want to take your ‘habitat photo’ before you move any debris.
Types of Photos
Habitat Photo: The first photo you’ll want to take is the one displaying the mushroom in it’s natural environment. This will give us plenty of information on the environmental conditions of the species. The species needs to be visible in the photo, but does not need to be so obvious. The purpose is to know what else is around the species being photographed.
Photo from the top: Whether it’s a mushrooms cap, or a slime mold, a photograph displaying the top of the species is a critical photo to have in order to identify a species.
Photo from the side: Most species will provide further identifiable information through a side view. This could tell us about a ring on the mushroom stem, or give us an idea on height. Feel free to line up a ruler next to the mushroom to photograph the mushroom with height representation.
Photo from the bottom: Not all species will get photographed from the bottom, such as slime molds which grow directly on their base. However, for many mushrooms, the view from the bottom is one of the most important photos and critical to be included. Often, the characteristics of the gills (or other underside type) are the key distinguishing feature of a species. It is recommended you bring a pocket size mirror with you to easily photograph the underside.