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Mycoblitz Mushroom Survey Held In Rocky Mountain National Park

Rocky Mountain National Park was pleased to host the park’s first-ever Mycoblitz, held in partnership with The Colorado Mycological Society last weekend in the park. Up to 100 citizen scientists participated.

This biodiversity study event was designed to sample fungi from habitats throughout the park. Rocky Mountain National Park is typical of many national parks. It has a comprehensive inventory of its animals and flowering plants, but little knowledge of its fungal biota.

The goal of the survey was to address this need and produce a useful database for park managers while making basic knowledge of the region’s fungi publicly accessible.
What is a Mycoblitz? A mycoblitz is a quick, intense survey of the fungal species present. Teams from the Colorado Mycological Society collected along planned routes. They targeted only macrofungi (i.e., those that produce macroscopic fruiting structures such as mushrooms).
Identifications of the collections was done in two steps;

1) sorting into major groups, and identification of the most common and easily recognized species and
2) more careful scrutiny of difficult specimens using microscopes and reference books.

Experts from the Society were on hand to make definitive identifications. Photographs of all the species will also eventually be available online.

The purpose of the Mycoblitz was to produce official records of all the macrofungi of Rocky Mountain National Park. Fungi are important components of the park’s environment. They are the primary recyclers of wood and other lignified plant material; they are typically the most abundant and important group of plant pathogens; they form mutualistic interactions (i.e., mycorrhizae) with most plants; they are crucial components in soil food webs; they associate with insects in a huge diversity of symbiotic interactions.

Macrofungi are a group of organisms that inspires much interest from the public for their unusual and diverse forms. However, the collecting of fungi, and other items from the park, is not allowed without a research permit. Mushroom collecting for personal consumption is not allowed within the park.

© 2014 Estes Park News, Inc

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