Get Your IDs for Kingdom Fungi, Fungi Including Lichens, Well Not Lichens

A lot of good people on here would be reluctant to ID mushrooms because of the way we learn them, species by species. It can be very daunting to build the family architecture to understand them better. I'm a pretty good identifier, but still mostly average at the Family or Genus level. I was incorrigible about learning from picture matching when I started, and, like almost everyone else, I just wanted to learn if something was edible or if it could make you happy. Now, and thanks to people wanting to know how I know what something is, I've started asking myself why more. My first NAMA foray at Clarion, PA, near my home on the Allegheny Plateau, I was lucky enough to have befriended quite a few good mycologists who didn't hate me for those traits. They all told me what I knew to be true, that I needed to learn to use the keys more. Well, they told me that and that I'd probably never get really good at mushrooms unless I was hooked up with the big city clubs. I ignored the latter advice for a little while longer, but I did try to tackle the keys more. It wasn't until later, after learning many Generic concepts, and interacting with some of my new found now-cyber-friends that I decided to immerse myself in the phylogeny. A lot of water has passed under the bridge since then. While we may live in drier, hotter times, the knowledge is in the flood stages. There are just are so many new things out there. If you've been around mycologists, or botanists, you are familiar with lumpers and splitters. Well DNA has finally made splitters out of most of us. The only splitters that would have been embarrassed by DNA are way too long-dead to feel that way.

I think this is one of the blocks to getting more good people into making identifications on here. We get on a roll identifying, but we get curious by some new-to-us name or something else that's on our mind we've been trying to know better, and then get sucked down the science rabbit hole. I try to separate the two, but it is impossible. That is a huge issue as there aren't that many identifiers for Fungi compared to other organisms. With nearly 8 million observations, there is a little bit more than twice the amount of observations of birds than there are of mushrooms on here. You can look at the other stats here

Expore Page-Fungi Identifiers. This shows that while the amount of identifiers is fairly similar, that the number one identifier of Fungi would be in the top five of bird identifiers, the number 2 would be number 17, and the number 3 would be 46. The 250th and the 500th birder has seven times the amount of identifications as their counterpart in mushroom land.

Identifying mushrooms should be always couched by the fact that there is so much unknown and only so much that humans are capable of (even sitting behind these wonder machines). I don't think we should hesitate to give a species' names out if we might have heard from someone that the thing we are trying to identify has been separated by DNA into multiple species. It might be years to publishing if it is even being worked on. I will often give the best currently available information. Like with Hygrophoropsis, it might be more than one species here and we really don't know. The false chanterelle could just be one of the false chanterelles, well it always was one of the false chanterelles, but I digress. The same thing could be said for a number of common things we find. I favor a top-down approach is favored for this. Just call it Hygrophoropsis, but I will sometimes agree with the other. This doesn't work sometimes though. Like when the genera have been split as well.

As an identifier, one of the things that endear me to people (and I really try hard to not play favorites) is trying to identify Fungi on here, for others. It may not feel like a lot, but start out by learning the classes and their traits. Move things from Unknown, Life, or Fungi, into a Class or even a Phyllum eliminates thousands of possibilities for the users. Even the most casual of new users get a boost from this interaction. They have a Wikipedia page to look up the thing they didn't know anything about, or they may have some validation for being on the right track. Sure they could go to Facebook and have a bunch of people they don't know give them five different names and maybe three different PM's. Here you might get an average ID out of the AI and have to wait and see if someone comes along to put it right or verify it, but the AI is better than many of those identifiers already, and the identifiers here have stats at least to tell you who they are (to some extent). Like their awful Facebook cousin, who shouts out a garbage species ID and hopes they aren't chastised for it, the identifier now has a stake in the process and can see it unfold. Identifying shows me, a more seasoned identifier, that this person is hungry for the information I may have for them, and it is more likely they will learn from it and pass it on, plus it gives me a sense of purpose other than beating the site statistics. It makes me happy to see it. Try to identify, it might be for you. Most importantly, don't forget, don't be afraid to get things wrong.

There are some other things that can be done from the identification standpoint, like cleaning up some of the AI's prolific mistakes. I mean really AI, you can suggest species for things all the time just by picture matching, but I'm supposed to be looking through a microscope at things and reading all the pre-prints to know mushrooms before I'm allowed to even put a Family to something? Really?

Posted on Ιανουάριος 18, 2021 0402 ΜΜ by fungee fungee


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