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Contact: John Dell'Osso, 415-464-5135
More than 100 citizen scientists participated in the fourth Fungal Foray at Point Reyes National Seashore. This rapid biodiversity assessment was designed to sample fungi from habitats throughout the park to help expand our understanding of fungal distribution and biodiversity. Point Reyes National Seashore is typical of most national parks with a good inventory of its vertebrates and vascular plants, but with little knowledge of its fungal biota. The goal of the Fungal Forays is to address this need and produce a useful database for ecologists while making basic knowledge of the region’s fungi publicly accessible. Taxonomists from UC–Berkeley, Humboldt State University, and San Francisco State University and experts from the Mycological Societies of San Francisco and Sonoma Counties joined many other enthusiasts and even several park visitors, who participated in the study to round out their park visit.
So far the forays have increased the park’s species list from 110 to more than 440, with at least 8 species new to science. Three new species to science were discovered on the most recent foray on December 27, 2007. Because of the ephemeral nature of fungal fruiting structures, the Pacific Coast Science and Learning Center and its scientific partners are repeating the surveys in 2008 and expect to find many additional park records.
On Sunday, January 27 from 11:00 AM – 3:00 PM, the Bear Valley Visitor Center at park headquarters will host the Third Annual Point Reyes Fungus Fair. Visit the park’s website at http://www.nps.gov/pore/naturescience/mushrooms.htm to learn more about the diversity of mushrooms at Point Reyes National Seashore. Free lectures at 12:00 Pm and 2:00 PM by Debbie Viess of the Bay area Mycological Society will also take place.
Tightly defined in time (24 to 48 hours) and space, a bioblitz (also bioquest or foray) brings the diverse capabilities of local natural historians, professional and amateur scientists, and students to the national parks en masse to explore, share findings, and educate the public about biodiversity.
Bioblitzes represent important contributions to systematic inventory and monitoring programs and can provide basic data needed for resource protection and conservation, which enhances park managers’ abilities to protect resources. The bioblitzes often focus on groups not surveyed through the NPS Inventory and Monitoring Program. Though they do not comprehensively inventory a park’s resources, bioblitzes develop important information on species occurrences, richness estimates, and identification of rare, endemic, and invasive species. Such data address the unfunded inventory needs of parks and are an excellent way to identify and help prioritize possible monitoring needs. Among the hundreds of species counted in each event are surprising discoveries of not only rare species but also species new to the park, county, state, region, and to science.
Bioblitzes not only benefit from volunteers but actually rely on the donation of time from professional taxonomists and experienced amateurs. These partnerships are vital to the parks and increase the richness of the bioblitz experience by bringing together different skills. Partners share the common goals of greater understanding to protect park resources and new interactive and educational outreach opportunities. Volunteers make the events possible through their support and participation on the teams.
For more information, contact Ben Becker, Director and Marine Ecologist, Pacific Coast Science and Learning Center, Point Reyes National Seashore at 415-464-5247.
NOTE TO MEDIA: Please contact John Dell’Osso for images of mushrooms such as those you see above.