Well preserved voucher
specimens are essential to scientific studies (e.g., biodiversity
surveys) that record the existence of fungal species in a particular
locality at a given point in time. In addition to allowing for
verification of identifications, voucher specimens can provide
material for future analyses (e.g., DNA for molecular phylogenetic
studies). Herbaria are essentially organismal museums were specimens can
be stored, cared for, and entered into databases. Prior to
accession into a herbarium, proper handling and collection
procedures will insure that a specimen is fit to serve as a scientific
Nonlichenized fungal specimens are normally fruiting bodies (sporocarps)
of the fungal organism rather than the actual
vegetative/assimilative body of the fungus, which is known as the
mycelium. Collecting sporocarps is generally not detrimental
to the fungus as the mycelium should be left intact after
the specimen is taken. A few basic principles govern the
collection of fungal sporocarps: take enough, take it carefully, and
remember the data. With that sentiment in mind, consider the
If possible, collect several
fruiting bodies at various stages of development (particularly true
for smaller species). Characters found on sporocarps early in
their development are essential to identify some fungi to the
species level. On the other hand, some characters are only
reliably determined on mature specimens.
Take it carefully:
Make sure that you are
collecting the entire sporocarp - if in soil, you should
carefully excavate the base of sporocarp, taking care to collect buried
portions of the stem, intact. As you dig, be sure to preserve
all structures that may aid in the identification of the fungus
(e.g., the basal cup [volva] of Amanita species).
Excavating the base of the
sporocarp will also allow the collector to determine if the fungus
is growing from a buried substrate (e.g., Pluteus species
growing from a rotting log covered with soil or a Cordyceps
species emerging from subterraneous insect larvae).
Preserve the integrity of
specimens as you bring them out of the field. Don't mix
collections together as stray spores only confuse identification
efforts. Inhibit spore mixing and prevent specimens from being
crushed by wrapping individual collections in wax paper (tinfoil
works for larger specimens) or place them in wax bags, paper lunch
bags, or compartments of plastic tackle/craft boxes.
NEVER collect specimens in
plastic zip-lock bags as these cause fungal specimens to rapidly
Remember the data:
Good field data are essential
to sound scientific reporting. Data such as substrate
descriptions and field notes describing fresh specimens can greatly assist
mycologists in making valid identifications.
Locality data should be as
precise as possible. Note road names, mile markers, the distance
to nearby fixed landmarks (e.g., towns or trailheads).
Although not essential, GPS data citing latitude, longitude, and
elevation greatly enhance the scientific value of specimens.
All specimens submitted to the
Arizona Mycota Project should be accompanied by an
Ideally, all specimens should be dried before being sent to AMP to
assure that they do not decay while in route through the post. The
sooner collections can be dried after coming in from the field the
better. Before drying, cut one specimen in half - this is
particularly true for puffball or truffle collections. Drying
can be achieved by several means. Consider the following:
Place well spaced collections
on a commercially available 'food dehydrator' equipped with a fan.
Dry overnight at low to medium drying temperatures (90-125 degrees
F), allowing more time for larger specimens.
When relative humidity is low
in Arizona (particularly in lower elevation, desert areas), drying
specimens outdoors works in a pinch. Place collections on a
paper plates or in paper lunch bags and leave them in area that does
not receive direct sunlight, which can bake specimens on warmer
sunny days. Make sure that the drying specimens are out of reach of
prowling animals such as neighborhood cats! Depending on
weather conditions, specimens will dry in a day or two.
Desert adapted species (e.g.,
Battarrea, Podaxis, and Tulostoma) are
normally encountered in the field in a dried state and can be shipped as is.
shipping, individual collections can be wrapped in paper or
placed in paper lunch bags along with the accompanying
Datasheet. Pack all specimens securely in a sturdy
cardboard box (no envelopes please) and mail to:
Arizona Mycota Project
c/o S.T. Bates
CIRES Visiting Fellow
University of Colorado at Boulder
Rm. 318 - CIRES Bldg.
Boulder, CO 80309
Arizona Mycota Project gratefully receives all macrofungi specimens
sent. We thank you for helping us in this effort!
Specimens will be identified and the field data added to our
database. Specimens with significant scientific value will
eventually be housed in the University of Arizona's
Robert L. Gilbertson
Mycological Herbarium, and have already contributed new records of Arizona
fungi to the
Checklist of Arizona
Macrofungi and Slime Molds.
Send your specimens
Besides being useful to persons attempting to identify
macrofungi, fungal images are often quite beautiful. Ideally, it would would be best if every specimen sent to AMP were
accompanied by an image(s); however, this is not always possible.
Specimens are collected when the camera is not at hand or persons
take pictures of interesting fungal finds and don't bother to
the past a camera equipped with a macro-lens and flash units (and don't
forget lots of patience) were required to capture fungal images in
the field; however, digital cameras now make it possible to obtain
high quality images of macrofungi in the field with little more than
a push of a button. That being said, here are a few guidelines
to help you capture the best digital images possible - ones that
will be pleasing to the eye as well as scientifically informative:
Fungal images are often best
when taken close-up, allowing the fungus to fill the majority of
the frame. Most digital cameras require the user to set the
camera to 'macro mode' (often depicted symbolically as a
flower) for close-up photography. Familiarize yourself with the camera's instruction
manual before heading out into the field so that you can easily
transition to 'macro mode' when your subject requires it.
Shaky hands often destroy a
good image. Carrying a small, inexpensive tripod into the
field can help alleviate this problem.
When taking a
close-up image, the camera lens is often held very close to the
subject, thus decreasing the focal length. For a digital
camera, the depth of field is often compromised when the lens is
close to the subject - leaving parts of your image out of focus.
By increasing the depth of field, more parts of the image (subject
and background) will be in focus. Digital cameras often
digitally recreate settings that one would find on an 'old fashion'
(SLR) camera. By setting the camera at the highest f/stop
number (e.g., f/stop 20 - often called a "small f/stop" because this setting creates a
minimum aperture), the maximum depth of field can be achieved.
However, this setting will allow less light to pass through the
lens, thus a slower shutter speed must be used to allow more time
for the light to be accumulated in the image. A tripod comes in
handy here as well, because slower shutter speeds allow more time
for shaky hands to blur the image.
When in doubt, try different
f/stop and shutter speed settings as you can always delete those
images that aren't satisfactory! Practice makes perfect so
don't expect perfect images right away.
Still confused - there are
many good websites that discuss macro photography - try searching
www.google.com with terms such
as 'macro photography', 'close up photography', 'digital macro
photography', 'f stop and depth of field', 'photographing
Please include images
on a CD (or other similar media) with specimens sent to the Arizona
Mycota Project. Suitable images not accompanied by a specimen
will also be accepted. AMP images are now linked to
Checklist of Arizona
Macrofungi and Slime Molds, and available for viewing via the World Wide Web. Don't forget to fill out and send an
Datasheet. Or, you can send your digital image via email
Send your images
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A specimen housed in the R.L. Gilbertson
(image by A.E. Arnold)
Collections drying on a commercially available 'food dehydrator'.
(image by S.T. Bates)
Digital image of Hygrophorus
speciosus. Note the species is represented at
different stages of development and fills entire frame -
displaying various diagnostic characters, including stem,
gills, and cap.
(image by S.T. Bates)
Examples of macrofungi collecting
gear - click-on image for
(image by S.T. Bates)