|BOTANICAL ELECTRONIC NEWS|
|No. 502 April 13, firstname.lastname@example.org||Victoria, B.C.|
Dr. Richard Hebda is the 2015 recipient of the Alliance of Natural History Museum of Canada's (ANHMC) Bruce Naylor Award. The award is given annually to recognize achievement by an individual or individuals of national or international significance in the museum-based natural history field in Canada through distinctive leadership, publications or other remarkable endeavours.
The award will be presented to Dr. Hebda at the Canadian Museums Association Conference on April 13 in Halifax. Well known in British Columbia, Canada and internationally, Dr. Hebda is Curator of Botany and Earth History at the Royal BC Museum in Victoria, British Columbia.
Nominated by his peers, Dr. Hebda is a trained botanist, ethnobotanist, paleontologist, palaeoecologist, and phytogeographer. A widely published leader in his field, his work has been ground-breaking in palynology and palaeoecology. He has furthered the understanding of ancient landscapes and vegetation in British Columbia, especially wetlands, forest and alpine ecosystems.
Famous for his work in environmental restoration and promoting use of native plants, Dr. Hebda has mentored many graduate students and students in the Restoration of Natural Systems Program at the University of Victoria, a program he helped found. He was one of the main research collaborators on a large research team for the Kwäday Dän Ts'ìnchí discovery, the first ancient human body from a North American glacier, discovered in northwest British Columbia (http://bomi.ou.edu/ben/ben281.html).
Exceptional in his public outreach through hundreds of lectures and a brilliant teacher, Dr. Hebda has inspired many and has been instrumental in encouraging students to pursue careers in natural history and botany. He has spearheaded the conservation of fossil sites in British Columbia and worked with NGO's to preserve the province's spectacular natural heritage.
The Alliance of Natural History Museums of Canada is a national network of natural history museums and similar institutions dedicated to the preservation and understanding of Canada's natural heritage and the enhancement of the benefits museums provide to the people of Canada.
[Congratulations, Richard, my friend and my former supervisor! Adolf]
A couple of years ago I realized that some insect larvae were feeding on Marchantia polymorpha in our experimental greenhouses. The larvae were mining inside the thalli. The insect that emerged after pupation turned out to be a dark-winged fungus gnat species (Family Sciaridae), which was determined as Scatopsciara cunicularius by the German expert Kai Heller. It was described from Germany in 1943 as mining on Marchantia, but never observed since the original description! We do not know exactly where it came from since we had plant material from several places in the greenhouse.
I found this association remarkable since I was aware of few reports of insects feeding on thalloid liverworts. A master student, Weerachon Sawangproh, was prepared to take on the challenge to study the interactions between the insect and the liverwort in further detail. He did a very good job. His study has resulted in a Master's thesis, which rendered two papers, recently published in entomological journals. These studies document, among other findings, that the insect can successfully complete its life cycle with Marchantia as the only food and that the feeding causes damage that substantially reduces the growth of the thalli.
Marchantia is a serious weed in certain types of commercial greenhouse cultures, especially forest tree plant nurseries. I spent some time looking at this problem as a side project funded by the forestry in Sweden during my period as PhD student. I pointed out various ways to reduce Marchantia by changing the environmental conditions, but the major solution to the problem seems still to be to use herbicides. This is costly and difficult since Marchantia is resistant to the most common herbicides. So, one reason that we were interested in the sciarid feeding on Marchantia, is that it may be used for biological control of Marchantia. We are now going to further study this possibility.
Finally, this sciarid is not the only living being that is eating Marchantia – I have noticed that the highly invasive "murder slug" Arion lusitanicus loves Marchantia. This slug has a reputation of eating almost anything in vegetable gardens. I have directly observed heavy grazing, and also noted that wetland forms of Marchantia polymorpha has vanished from certain areas in parallel with invasion of the slug.
The mushrooms of the Rocky Mountains from Montana to Colorado (USA) southwards are covered in this lavishly illustrated book.
Unlike the usual mushroom guide, this book is organized by habitat, from the prairies of the foothills through the montane Ponderosa pine and subalpine Spruce-Fir forests to the alpine high altitude vegetation. Each habitat is introduced with a description of the main players, which includes plants, animals, and fungi, followed by descriptions and photos of the characteristic mushrooms of that particular habitat. The book is organized like a walk up the mountains, but has also a chapter on burned ground as fires are a natural part of the American west, and a very specific set of fungi will fruit abundantly after the fire. A chapter on snowbanks with their characteristic mycofloras is also appropriate, as snowbank fungi are unique to western North America.
The only other North American guide organized by habitat that I know of is the one on Hawaiian fungi (Hemmes & Desjardin 2002). Special for the Rocky Mountain book is the attention to organisms other than fungi. The approach to place the fungi so clearly in their environment—and to show the interconnectedness between all organisms in a certain habitat—is wonderful.
Unlike the usual mushrooom guides, this book does not have an extensive introduction to fungi; one page on making spore prints is placed in the introduction, simple keys are given at the end, and one page is devoted to eating mushrooms.
The index also serves as glossary, with terms explained with a referral to the page where the term is used.
The emphasis is on the more conspicuous and easy to recognize species; one will look in vain for an Inocybe species in this book, although many occur in the Rocky Mountains. The descriptions cover macroscopic characters, and the observations give information on similar species in the mountains.
One objection to the habitat approach is that of course some fungal species occur in several habitats; to counter this, the inside of the front cover lists the species that are covered in the book per habitat and for each species also indicates in which other habitats it might occur. Still, when one wants to compare the pine-associated Suillus species with each other, one has to flip back and forth between habitats.
Most photos of the species are good and show all the characters of a species, while others do not include the complete fruiting bodies.
Some species names need to be updated – some examples: Plectania nannfeldtii should be Donadinia nigrella (Carbone et al. 2013); the common burn fungus Pachylepyrium carbonicola goes now under the name Crassisporium funariophilum (Matheny et al. 2015).
The approach presented in this book makes me want to go immediately to the Rocky Mountains and use the book in situ! I would love to see more books like this, and I hope that the increasing knowledge of the North American mycoflora will make this possible.
von Bonsdorff, T. I. Kytövuori, J. Vauras, S. Huhtinen, P. Halme, T. Rämä, L. Kosonen, and S. Jakobsson. 2014. Sienet ja metsien luontoarvot. [Mushrooms and forest natural values] Norrlinia 27: 1-272. [in Finnish, with English summaries]) Published by the Finnish Museum of Natural History 7" x 9 7/8" soft cover; 272 p. ISSN: 0780-3214; ISBN: 978-952-10-9945-8 Price: €35 + shipping, order inquiries to email@example.com
Many fungi are excellent indicators of the conservation value of forests. The authors set out to produce a book that interprets the message of the forest macrofungi. The 14 forest habitats ("biotopes") included in this book present unmanaged and near natural forests occurring in Finland. The authors picked numerous indicator fungi—as mentioned, some are commonly encountered, while many others are quite rare or threatened—and given indicator values from one to five, based on commonness or rareness (one is common, five is rare). Indicator value was subjectively determined based on a) usefulness of a species as an indicator of a certain habitat's conservation value, and b) the biological importance of finding such an apparently scarce species. Current unclear taxonomy of such species diminishes their indicator value.
In all, the authors score 545 fungal species as indicators of valuable forest biotopes in Finland. The Finnish mushrooms will be quite familiar to mycophiles in North America. Descriptions with photographs, microscopic illustrations, and distribution maps are given for 147 of these species. The descriptions are excellent (see inset). However, all descriptions are entirely in Finnish (except for scientific name). Descriptions of each of the 14 biotopes, as well as some other summary sections and intros, are in English and Finnish. Two species new to science were described in this book and those descriptions are in Finnish and English.
This book would be of value to Finnish speaking mycologists, of course, but would likely be of use to many in North America as well, as we begin to get a handle on our species diversity and threatened species. As researchers begin to work on "red lists" similar to those in Europe, Fungi as Indicators would be a useful role model for how to assess useful indicator species.
[Note: Britt A. Bunyard, Publisher & Editor-in-Chief of FUNGI magazine For an old, old minireview of FUNGI magazine see http://bomi.ou.edu/ben/ben405.html ]
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