Ask any expert on animals, plants, lichens, or mosses about the number of known species in a region, and they will be able to give you a pretty accurate estimate. Ask this same question to an expert in fungi, and the answer will always be very vague and with a large degree of acknowledged variation, something like "perhaps 4,000 species, but there may be as many as 20,000 species". This is an inherent problem when working with often microscopic, short lived, highly cryptic, or only sporadically fruiting organisms.
In 2004, the then Alberta Mycological Society initiated a project to compile all known mycological information in the Province of Alberta, Canada. The aim was to make this information available to the public and assist the forest industry, government departments, and professional and amateur mycologists in the assessment of fungal biodiversity across Alberta.
The project started officially in the spring of 2005. Since then, we have compiled mycological information from various sources, including provincial and federal government departments, educational institutions, the scientific literature, and province-wide foray reports from our club since its inception in 1987. The first set of data was officially launched in early in 2009, and additional data will be released in the months and years to come. Ongoing photographic images will be added to complement the records as they come available. So, please come back and visit our database periodically to see more information as it is launched in the future.
There are two ways for you to access information in this data base. You can search for specific fungi across the entire Province of Alberta using their Latin names, e.g., Armillaria, or you can search an area within the Province of Alberta for all fungi that have been reported from that area, e.g., near Hinton. For ease of searching we have deviated from normal protocol to all species with an added "cf", the "cf" will follow the species name. The following paragraphs describe how these searches are performed.
A search can requested using any of the following search topics; by genus, species or by date. If you are interested in a particular fungus or a genus of fungi enter the name in the appropriately designated field and all records of those fungi will be displayed in a list below. If you are unsure of the proper spelling type in the first few letters, you might get a few extra selections but they should include the fungus you are looking for. On the list below click on the icon in the far left column, a second screen will open displaying a list of individual collection logs and a map showing the approximate locations where these fungi have been found.
If you click on one of the highlighted logs, a collection log screen will open giving information regarding that particular fungus. On this page there will be four possible high lighted areas; Museum data, Title, Fungi and Image. These will appear if there is the corresponding data within the database. Clicking on the "Museum data" will provide the Museum where the specimen is located and accession number. Clicking on the "Title" will provide the Authors, Source, date of publication and list of collection logs that are found in that specific publication. Clicking on "Fungi" will return you to the full list that was previously searched. Clicking on "Image" will bring up a representative photograph, which may or may not be a photo of that actual specific specimen.
Area searches can be done in two ways. Below the search header are two choices; "selection map search" or "point map search".
If you select "selection map search" a Google Earth map will appear. With your cursor move about the map till you are near the area you want search. Click once and a small cross will appear, move your cursor creating a box that will be your search area. Click again and you will be asked if you want to search the highlighted area. If you agree, a list of all the documented fungi found within the area represented by the highlighted box will appear below.
If you select "point map search", again a Google Earth map will appear. In a box below the map you will see a "search radius". Enter the appropriate radius, then move your cursor to the center point of your desired search area. Click once and you will be asked if you want to search in the vicinity of your selection. If you agree, a list of all the documented fungi found within the area requested will appear below.
To select specific fungi found in your search area, click on the icon in the far left column. A second screen will open displaying a list of individual collection logs and a map showing the approximate location of all those fungi that have been found in the province. You must then select from the collection log list the collection or collections, which are in your search area.
At this time, you cannot search for any fungi using their common names. This feature will be added to the data base at a later date.
If you have any questions about this data base or its data, please contact the data administrator.
We are grateful for the cooperation of various individuals, government departments, and educational institutions that have made their mycological information freely available for inclusion in our database. Specifically, we thank:
In addition, information from foray reports published in the newsletter of the Alberta Mycological Society (formerly the Edmonton Mycological Society and Edmonton Mushroom Club) since 1987 was also included in this data base.
Mycological information at the Northern Forestry Centre (macrofungus collection will be added in 2009), Canadian Forest Service, Natural Resources Canada, Edmonton, and the University of Alberta (macro and microfungus collections), Museums and Collections, Edmonton, are not included here unless the information has been included in a publication. Please contact their respective managers or curators for mycological specimens accessioned in their collections.
A project of this scale is not possible without significant human and financial resources. Special thanks go to the Alberta Conservation Association who have provided funding to make this project possible. In addition, the database committee of the Alberta Mycological Society (Markus Thormann, Martin Osis, Bill Richards, Alan Fleming and Mike Shulz) spent countless hours discussing and designing this database and its features. Special thanks go out to Dr. Markus Thormann, who was the vision behind the database and has dedicated many hours and much effort to the project. With the assistance of Bits in Glass, Edmonton, who wrote the code, we finally launched the first set of data in 2009.