MYCOblitz 2020

One forest…

One mycologist…

Six youth apprentices…

A simple recipe for a powerful weekend of citizen engaged science in the Children’s Forest on Cortes Island.

On October 17 & 18, the Forest Trust for the Children of Cortes Island Society (FTCCIS) hosted a MYCOblitz, to assess the diversity of macrofungi on lands identified by FTCCIS for purchase, and affectionately known to the children of Cortes Island as… the Children’s Forest.

Sixty-three species of macrofungi were identified to genus and species by a research team of Cortes Island youth lead by mycologist, Paul Stamets.

This inventory will form our foundational fungal working list and is an important addition to the species lists compiled, to date, from BIOblitz data 2016-2019.

Mega MYCO thanks to Paul Stamets for a weekend of MYCO merriment! 

Paul generously shared with us his love of mushroom lore; we learned soooooo much!

We learned that mushrooms are the fruiting bodies (above the forest floor) of the mycelia (below the forest floor); the mycelia form a giant fungal engine in the soil; superhighways to move nutrients across miles of forest lands! As we walk across the forest floor, the mycelia sense our footsteps! Mycelia breathe in oxygen and breathe out carbon dioxide, just like us! We are more closely related, evolutionarily, to mushrooms in Kingdom Fungi than animals in Kingdom Animalia! We also learned that woodpeckers carry fungal spores (up to 120 species) on their beaks from one tree to the next, inoculating them with fungi that will break the wood down and provide good habitat for insects. When the woodpeckers return a year later, they remember the trees they inoculated and feast on the insects! We learned that mushrooms sometimes grow upside-down and that there are giggling mushrooms! Raindrops splash fungal spores out of the wee cups made by the Bird’s Nest Fungus to spread them across the forest floor! Tonics made from mushrooms boost the immune system and that is the primary medicinal role of mushrooms!

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