About the project

“Macrofungi are defined here to include ascomycetes and basidiomycetes with large, easily observed spore-bearing structures that form above or below ground.”

 – Mueller et al. 2007. Global diversity and distribution of macrofungi. Biodivers Conserv 16:37–48

Simply put, we study mushrooms. More technically, we strive to understand the biodiversity of terrestrial fungi that form reproductive structures we can easily see with the naked eye.

CollectingRegions_Colorado_counties_black

Distribution of Colorado macrofungi collections deposited in the Sam Mitchel Herbarium of Fungi. Colored areas depict undersampled regions in the state: Western Slope (orange); Eastern Plains (yellow); San Juan Mountains (dark green); Sangre de Christo Mountains (dark red); Medicine Bow (light blue).

The Sam Mitchel Herbarium of Fungi currently houses:

  • 12,088 specimen records
  • 7,909 (65%) georeferenced
  • 3,279 (27%) imaged
  • 8,404 (70%) identified to species
  • 188 families
  • 576 genera
  • 2,016 species
  • 2,046 total taxa (including subsp. and var.)

…according to MycoPortal where all collection references and metadata are databased

and accessable to the public.

However, the distribution of the georeferenced collections clearly indicate a bias in the majority of specimens sampled (see map).

In addition, nearly 30% of the specimens in the herbarium have not been sufficiently identified to species. This can be attributed to either our lack of understanding of the species they represent, OR the very real possibility that these specimens represent species unknown to science.

The goals of the Colorado Mycoflora Project are fairly simple:

  1. Expand our sampling of macrofungi across the state of Colorado and Southern Rocky Mountain region to improve representation of vouchered collections in the Sam Mitchel Herbarium of Fungi.
  2. Thoroughly identify collections using a combination of morphological descriptions of macroscopic and microscopic characters, and through DNA sequencing of the genetic barcode for fungi, the nuclear ribosomal internal transcribed spacer region (AKA the nrITS)
  3. Provide a research coordination network, identification resources, and education for professional and amateur mycologists, field biologists, naturalists, and citizen scientists interested in the biodiversity of macrofungi.

Each of these tasks will require coordinated participation of Colorado’s mycological community. The role of the Colorado Mycoflora Project is to facilitate this effort in order to better document and describe the diversity of Macrofungi in the Southern Rockies.