A Call to Action for Fungi

OK, I'm a nerd about mushrooms. I've been a lot of other things, but this one seems to be winning lately. One thing I know now: if I were a more particular of a nerd, like about a certain type of mushrooms, maybe my keenness would be more greatly honed. I've been that in the past too, and I don't regret it, but when I do I give so much slack to the other areas of mushrooms that much I have learned gets lost. I guess suffering happens no matter what what path one chooses.

So I guess my call to action for myself is to be better. To do more.

For the rest of you who consider yourselves identifiers, I suggest looking at common taxa in your area. The stuff you know you know, or the stuff you think you know that cannot be known, especially from a photograph with no info attached, and spend a few minutes a day sorting them out. Sorry for making anyone conjure thoughts of the other Donald, Rumsfeld. I have periods where I skip out on the online mentoring, and am fairly selective with what I identify or comment on (not naming names here, and there is nothing wrong with any of it). I know that things are defaulted here in a way that stuff disappears when it obtains "research grade", and the AI ever so convincing. These are challenges. I am beginning to feel strongly that I shouldn't be identifying things wrongly, even if that means withholding information I might have regarding what I think it could be. Perhaps that is born out of laziness, perhaps out of not wanting to cause confusion.

For those of you posting your finds. Do some reading. Look at the suggestions the AI makes, are they in the same Families, or the same Classes, or even the same Phyllum? Try to look for more similarities and do a little reading about your ultimate choice. It might surprise you what you learn. If the suggestions are all over the place, consider the AI to be just wildly guessing. I'm sure it work best with things like birds or butterflies which are in a more similar range of morphology and mostly known. Mushrooms often can't get named to species when many aren't even named yet.

Anyone can be an identifier of anything, and certainly they can identify what clearly is not something.

I'd be happy to discuss. I'm just thinking out loud mostly, trying to refine something. Maybe it can't be?

Posted on Φεβρουάριος 19, 2019 0503 ΜΜ by fungee fungee


Well said. I don't know if my ramblings are going to be relevant or not but here we go.

Inaturalist is great but (no offense inaturalist) it's become the lazy mans way of identifying things. No research is done, no referencing books, just pick the top suggestion and move on to the next. I'm guilty of this too, more than I care to admit. For me personally it feels like appreciation for the species is lost when this happens. A quick picture is taken, uploaded then forgotten. Sometimes, and this is just me, I often wonder if it's better not even stressing over what the name is and just appreciating the fact that it's there, appreciate where it living, the hardships it has faced, the ecosystem it has created or added to. Often this appreciation makes you want to know its name and being able to identify it correctly may be a form of appreciation in itself. Incorrectly identifying things, or not identifying things at all does becomes an issue when real research is being conducted or new species are trying to be discovered or species being protected, citizen science has become crucial today.

To me it seems we often forget there is such an incredible diversity around us and so few of us go out and just appreciate it all. A fun strategy for me has always been to study a new topic every year, butterflies one year, birds the next etc. Whether you're an identifier or not as long as you're getting out there and enjoying all the life around you, well that's a win in my book!

I have no idea if this contributes to your thoughts or not but just the things I think and struggle with as a result of my career. Oh and also, we need mentors like you!

Αναρτήθηκε από mattnusstein πάνω από 5 χρόνια πριν

Garrett, thanks for stoking my thoughts! I am curious about different philosophies on the way to use iNat. Are there any formalized guidelines? I'm not sure if we should be putting forth our best guess liberally, or being conservative—only identifying to a taxonomic level if we are >99% certain thereof. What should our confidence level be for choosing an ID? I personally do not have a consistent philosophy on this—some taxa, or particular specimens, I care more about, and am more rigorous/cautious with my ID. With others I am happy to give my best informed guess, just to make a record of my find/photo/specimen, or just lazily ID to genus and let more concerned/knowledgeable folks ID it if they want to. Therefore, I see the need for people who are expert or familiar with particular groups to adopt and curate their pet groups. If someone were to be researching a group, or had an affinity for it, they could easily search that group, find the observations, and curate the IDs. I have a genus that I am researching, and a handful of taxa that I attempt to curate out of love. I also find that I tend to focus more on taxonomy for a particular group, rather than for a geographic area.

A note on the AI ID—I find the AI is surprisingly good, but I don't trust it willy nilly. I find that it is either correct to genus or species level, or it is just way off, often by phylum. And it seems it is better for birds than plants, and better for plants than mushrooms. Also I think the bird community will ID any post within 24 hours! I can be super lazy with bird IDs and it always gets corrected. It may never be so prompt/rigorous for fungi, so I wonder how that should inform our philosophy of [Fung]iNaturalist. By the way—will I see you at NAMA this year? Paul Smiths in August!!

Αναρτήθηκε από richtehan πάνω από 5 χρόνια πριν

Thanks for the well considered replies. I take some comfort that you all are thinking similar thoughts to me about this stuff. Matt, I think the most interesting part of this hobby is realizing the connectivity of the web of life and somehow feeling tied to it, if only by the knowledge of the thing and where it's found. Rich, I vacillate between only giving ID's to what level I know (or think) something is and writing any additional commentary depending on how generous I feel or hopeful I feel about an ID, and sometimes giving my best guess (which often stops at genus because of obvious limitations). It's mostly a likelihood thing and a knowledge thing. If I think I know it I usually don't withhold that info. I will express my uncertainty with an I think in the comments, a ?, or some other options I had in mind. I have been wrong plenty when my certainty was high. Of course, it does help to get things into the specialist wheelhouse to ID to something rather than not, so I try to do that at least. I will definitely be at Paul Smith's this year! Hopefully it's a good representation of what I have seen there in past Augusts. Or not seen there. I spent loads of time there as a kid, but only paying attention to mushrooms for the much lesser visited past third. Always cool though.

Αναρτήθηκε από fungee πάνω από 5 χρόνια πριν

about the part where you mention not wanting to ID or confirm IDs to prevent wrong Research Grades - I feel that a lot as a new learner with fungi. But then if I hold back all the time, it seems like my learning stalls out and the people in my fungi project don't get as much engagement on their interesting observations. So instead I am thinking of going even more for Comments rather than Suggesting/Confirming IDs. In a comment I can suggest one or more species and give helpful links to iNat photo galleries, specific observations to compare, or other resources. At the same time I do still want to learn a few well enough to ID or confirm IDs without so much worry.

I am a little surprised I don't see more use of the comment feature for the sake of giving ID help & starting discussions without committing. But maybe I just haven't seen enough at all yet, still being new to the site. Or the fact that there is no tracked # stat for it discourages use, and it being in the same box as "Suggest ID" could lead to it being overlooked.

Αναρτήθηκε από mkremedios πάνω από 3 χρόνια πριν

Actually, lately, I try to not put in comments unless they can't be avoided. A suggested ID can lead the user to more information. I try to do more of that, if even just to family, order, or class. I think any little bit of information that can help to improve an ID is valuable information. Maybe more valuable than using an old name which could lead to a wild goose chase, or a bad data situation. There is enough of that already, I don't need to add to it.

The last year has been insane on here. The exponential growth of iNat is impossible to keep up with without getting any help from new identifiers such as yourself. I check my messages on here. If you have a question or want some advice on how to go about things, hit me up, I'll help out if I can. There is plenty of opportunity for new(er) ID'ers to work certain veins where there are clearly a lot of wrong identifications. I would use that to reinforce what you're learning in real life. Go back on here and check those things out, I'm sure you'll find a lot of work. Good Luck!!!

Αναρτήθηκε από fungee πάνω από 3 χρόνια πριν

Thank you for the suggestions & help. To clarify, I mean comments with links to the exact species I would have suggested instead, both an iNaturalist taxon page link and links to any other pages I might be looking at (MO, online guides, specific iNat observations that are similar) for reference. Not just general thoughts in a comment.

I guess I'm trying to think of a way of having the best of both worlds of commenting my thoughts vs suggesting an ID. A comment with exact species ID and links is a 'soft suggestion' or suggestion lite, I think. Basically it makes it so a person can't just hit Agree on whatever I've put and would have to take the linked species and suggest it themselves, then either wait for me to come back with more research and certainty or for 1 other person to come along and agree. Slowing things down just a little bit while still getting the "suggestion" out there and information in the hands of the person who observed it and whoever else may come along to review the post.

I definitely will keep actually suggesting IDs when I either know what I'm looking at (rare) or have done research comparing potential IDs, looking up discussions online to determine how certain I can be, etc (easier said than done, but I've been doing it enough to get some IDs in).

If you could (no rush) I would be interested in knowing one or a few fungal taxa where there are many obviously wrong IDs a newer person to the task could learn and go through. I am in WI, which is further west than DE but still broadly eastern US. One I was thinking of would be Eastern American Yellow Fly Agaric (Amanita muscaria var. guessowii) vs Jeweled Amanita, maybe. I confused that one in our foray group earlier in the year, and maybe could research until I can regularly distinguish them. I guess giant puffballs should be pretty simple to go through. "Should" being the main word.

One time I saw what I thought was certainly a small/growing giant puffball (seen often in that spot yearly) and it turned out it was a round, white gilled mushroom still buried under the soil and just not emerging at all, ever. It was only by accidentally kicking one over later that I realized the error, despite growing ever more suspicious as they stayed very not-giant. A good reason to try and sacrifice 1 by cutting it up while observing it if there is any doubt.

Αναρτήθηκε από mkremedios πάνω από 3 χρόνια πριν

One glaring example is red Russula mushrooms. I know of only a couple red Russula that I can put names on, and probably with a very limited time frame, or if they have very clear pictures. The AI suggests west coast names for our eastern red Russulas. The more boreal species are a real problem, everywhere, I'm haven't looked to see how northern you are in WI, but when I visited up by Lake Superior there were a ton of species that probably aren't represented much on here, or are misnamed. I have only glanced in northern NY and in Ontario mostly. I sometimes look up your way, but with nearly half of all observations of Fungi being added in the last year, it's clear there is a ton more work to do. I need to work on a good game plan as well. I have to keep myself occupied for this long down season ahead!

A lot of my commentary is about getting better, more diagnostic pics. Telling them to get undersides and closer up. And this is often directed to those posting Amanita, as in how to dig out the base and try to get that and the ring in the shots.

Αναρτήθηκε από fungee πάνω από 3 χρόνια πριν

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