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Confounding Fungal Expectations at the Fifth Annual Metchosin MycoBlitz

Confounding Fungal Expectations

by Kem Luther

                  The fifth Metchosin MycoBlitz took place on Saturday, November 4, 2017. A sharp frost and a light snow on Friday, combined with an unusually bad year for mushrooms in general, had the organizers of the MycoBlitz wondering whether they would find much at Metchosin’s fifth MycoBlitz event. A record crowd showed up, however, and the twenty experts and thirty helpers collected over 200 mushroom samples.  Of these 200 specimens, 155 were different species. About a third of species turned out to be new to Metchosin BioBlitz/MycoBlitz records.

As in previous years, the mushroom seekers met in front of the District of Metchosin offices at 9:00 on the first Saturday of November. They divided themselves into three teams and mushroom identification experts were dispersed among the teams. The teams were assigned to travel to three Metchosin locations: Camp Thunderbird, Pearson College, and Camosun College's van der Meer property. (A big thanks to the YMCA-YWCA, Pearson College, and Camosun College for allowing the teams onto their properties.)  The teams left about 9:30 am and returned to the starting location about noon.  MycoBlitz planners Moralea Milne and Joel Ussery stayed behind to prepare for the return of the groups.

The teams brought their carefully wrapped specimens into the District of Metchosin Council Chambers and the twenty experts set themselves to the task of sorting and identifying all the mushrooms brought back by the three teams. While sorting the mushrooms, they enjoyed soups (thanks, Karyn Woodland and Mairi MacKinnon!) and pizza donated by My-Chosen pizza. The rest of the group went down hill to the fire hall to have bag lunches, eat popcorn, and watch the "Andy and Kem Fungal Follies," a collection of the best internet clips of mushrooms. Guests returned to the Council Chambers at 2:00 pm to look over the collections (Heard many times: "is it edible?")

The speaker and resource person for MycoBlitz 2017 was Roo Vandegrift of the University of Oregon. His talk in Metchosin on the Friday night before the MycoBlitz (session 97 in Metchosin's popular Talk and Walk series) covered the science and variety of the often-overlooked ascomycete mushrooms. Roo, brought to the area by the South Vancouver Island Mycological Society (SVIMS) and the Vancouver Mycological Society (VMS), ended up spending almost two weeks in BC working in labs and helping mycological types learn more about Xylarias, an ascomycete group that occupies most of Roo's research time. In Victoria, Roo teamed up with Brenda Callan, a colleague at the Pacific Forestry Centre. Roo and Brenda identified for the MycoBlitz more than a dozen small ascomycete mushrooms that had not been recorded in Metchosin before.

MycoBlitz 2017 was fortunate to have on the search teams several good photographers. They have graciously agreed to make digital versions some of their pictures from the day available on this web site. To see these pictures, go to this MycoBlitz web page at http://metchosinbiodiversity.com.

The Metchosin Biodiversity Project, organizer of the MycoBlitz, acknowledges the support of the Metchosin Foundation in helping make this year’s MycoBlitz possible.