Sunday, February 9, 2014

Michael Beug: E-Flora BC's New Fungi Photo Editor

 Fly amanita (Amanita muscaria), photo by Michael Beug

This past weekend, Michael Beug, co-author of the soon-to-be-published Ascomycete Fungi of North America and Professor Emeritus at The Evergreen State College (Washington State), took on an expanded role in E-Flora BC.  Until now, Michael was one of our fungi photo reviewers, and also prepared our introduction to macrofungi on E-Flora BC--The Macrofungi of British Columbia. Now, though, Michael has taken on the role of Fungi Photo Editor.  Michael joins mycologist Ian Gibson of Victoria in developing our macrofungi section on E-Flora BC.  While Ian develops the macrofungi species list, and provides descriptive text for each species for our atlas pages, Michael will handle all fungi photos on the atlas.

Within the first few hours of taking on his new role, Michael began work reviewing all of the photos in our fungi photo gallery, double checking identifications and choosing the best photo of a species as an illustration.  That is, good fungi shots that also show key characteristics of a species. 

Michael has an impressive resume. At The Evergreen State College in Washington he taught chemistry, mycology and organic farming for 32 years.   Retired now, he continues to lecture and hold mushroom workshops.  He is very involved with the North American Mycological Association (NAMA), where serves as Editor of the Journal McIlvainea, Chair of the Toxicology Committee, and is a member of the Education Committee.  Significantly, he is currently Vice President and has served four terms as President of The Pacific Northwest Key Council, a group focused on the taxonomy and identification of fungi.  Michael is also a co-author of MatchMaker, with Ian Gibson, Drew Parker, Danny Miller, Eli Gibson, and Bryce Kendrick. Matchmaker is a free mushroom identification tool that covers mushrooms of the Pacific Northwest.  

E-Flora BC focuses on macrofungi, the mushrooms, which is a very large group in BC.  In his introduction to the macrofungi, Michael says: 

"There are over 1600 species of macrofungi recorded from British Columbia. There are hundreds of additional named species found in the Pacific Northwest but not yet recorded from B.C. that are likely to turn up when people start looking for them. In addition, there are numerous species, probably one to three thousand or more, present in B. C. but not yet named or still waiting to catch the eye of someone who will recognize the mushroom as new to science. All of this brings the probable number of mushroom species in British Columbia to somewhere on the order of 5,000 species, possibly even 10,000 species."

One paragraph in Michael's introduction to the macrofungi of BC sums up his view of fungi and fungi in BC.

"In October of 2008, Dr. Joe Ammirati asked me to see if I could find any species of Cortinarius associated with Oregon White Oak (Quercus garryana). I checked the literature but found none reported. However, in the following month I found 10 to 20 new species under the Oregon White Oak of the Columbia River Gorge. I found only one species that had previously been named and it was only reported from California. One Cortinarius I found was beautiful mustard yellow, another had gorgeous lilac tones, one had a spectacular fluorescence under UV light and one turned a striking bright pink when treated with potassium hydroxide. These were all big beautiful mushrooms with striking features. How had they gone undiscovered for so long? How many more new species are under the oaks of Southwestern British Columbia? For that matter, how many new species lurk undiscovered in all of British Columbia (some of the Cortinarius species I have found in Washington have also been found near Victoria, B.C. and are now in the process of getting names) – I will bet that there are still several thousand beautiful and interesting fungi waiting somewhere to be discovered and then studied and named. It is an exciting field open to anyone with an enquiring mind. I myself started off as a toadstool kicker, generally oblivious to mushrooms. A friend gave me some morels that led first to a memorable meal and then to a lifetime of discovery."

Michael lives in a remote area of Washington State, with a view of Mount Hood, and a half a mile long driveway.  

Here is a small selection of Michael's fungi photos:

Calocera viscosa (no common name), photos by Michael Beug

 Fairy fingers (Clavaria vermicularis), photo by Michael Beug

 Shaggy mane (Coprinus comatus), photo by Michael Beug

Read Michael's article on The Macrofungi of British Columbia here.
Michael has more than 1200 photos on E-Flora BC. View his photo gallery here
Visit Matchmaker, a free identification site for the mushrooms of the Pacific Northwest.

Monday, February 3, 2014

Citizen Science on E-Fauna BC: The Bumble Bee Project

 Bombus flavifrons, photo by Brian Klinkenberg

Citizen science is an important and growing area where we can help scientists collect information and documentation on wild species.  At E-Fauna and E-Flora BC, citizen scientists can contribute photo documentation of species occurrences in British Columbia, particularly for species where the identification can be verfied from photos.  This includes birds, mammals, fish, reptiles and amphibians , along with plants and fungi.  But it also includes less charismatic species such as insects, or marine invertebrates, and more.

One group we would like to focus on in 2014 on E-Fauna BC is bumble bees. This is a group that is relatively easy to photograph, and we have expert help in identifying species from photographs.

Bumble bees have been in trouble for several years now, and many species have declined throughout their range. In BC, we have seen these declines, and we have also seen new species appear.  Some of this has been documented by E-Fauna photographers, including documentation of the presence of the introduced Common Eastern Bumble Bee (Bombus impatiens) in BC, documentation of the continued presence of the Western Bumble Bee (Bombus occidentalis) in BC (a species that has shown dramatic declines), and documentation of the growing numbers of the Yellow-faced Bumble Bee (Bombus vosnesenskii) as it expands its range in the province.

But there is much more documentation yet to be collected for bumble bees. So far, we have photo coverage for only 20 of our 33 BC species, and we would like to include coverage for the remaining species. Are they still out there?  You can help with this. When you are out and about this summer, whether in your garden or in a natural habitat (woods, fields, wetlands), focus on photographing bumble bees and help us provide coverage for these additional species.  When you submit your photos, include location coordinates (taken from Google maps) and we will map your record on our species distribution maps.

Anyone can become a citizien scientists for this project.  All you need is a camera.  Bumble bees are easy to recognize as 'bumble bees', and we can help with species identification. Once you have taken photos, then all you need to do to participate is become an E-Fauna photographer and send us your photos.  If you aren't already registered as an E-Fauna photographer, you can register here.  We will provide you with a password so you can upload your photos to our database.

Best get ready now....the first bumble bees will appear in a few weeks in southern BC as the weather warms up.  Watch for them!

Read about the Student Science North America-wide bumble bee project here.
Read about Bumble Bee Watch here.

Thanks to bumble bee expert Robbin Thorp for supporting bumble bees on E-Fauna BC.

Sunday, February 2, 2014

New Checklist of the Orthoptera (Grasshoppers, Crickets and Katydids) Species of BC Now Available

Red-legged Grasshopper (Melanoplus femurrubrum femurrubrum), photo by Brian Klinkenberg

An Updated Checklist of the Orthoptera Species of British Columbia, by entomologist James Miskelly, was recently published (2012).  The checklist covers grasshoppers, crickets, cave crickets, Jerusalem crickets, katydids and locusts. In the abstract to his paper, Miskelly says:

"Since the last publication of a checklist of the Orthoptera of British Columbia, much has been learned about the group. New information has come from a variety of web-based resources as well as new collections. An updated checklist is presented, listing 104 resident species in the province. Two of these species are represented by two subspecies in BC. Eight species have been added since the last list was published, including newly discovered native species and newly established non-native species. Records of six species have been found to be based on misidentified specimens and these species have been deleted from the checklist. An additional 15 species are considered hypothetical and may one day be confirmed to occur in BC."

View the paper, published by the Entomological Society of British Columbia, here.
View the E-Fauna BC Checklist of Orthopertoid Insects (2007), by Geoff Scudder and Rob Cannings, here.
View the E-Fauna BC atlas pages for Orthopera species here.
Read the Introduction to the Orthoptera of BC, by Geoff Scudder and Rob Cannings, here.