Focused on the Pacific Northwest, but covering the “big picture” across North America, your instructors will draw on their decades of field experience to cover everything from basic fungal biology to ecology and evolution to conservation and directions for community science.
Noah and Christian are both seasoned mycological educators – expect lushly illustrated sessions and up-to-the-minute insights on latest research!
Part 1: Nov. 21 – What are Fungi?
- Although you might be very familiar with mushrooms, it might surprise you to learn that situating mushrooms within the broader category of “fungi” is a complicated task! And how do we define fungi to begin with? From the “big-picture” evolutionary view (when did fungi first evolve?) to the nuts and bolts of how to analyze mushroom anatomy for identification, this session will cover the basics of fungal biology and give us a firm foundation for the rest of our time together.
Part 2: Nov. 28 – Mushroom Ecology – What We Thought We Knew
- Almost everyone learns in school that fungi play important ecological roles as decomposers. And increasingly, a few sensational examples of mutualistic and parasitic fungi have become well-known thanks to popular media. But the actual details of fungal ecology are complex, subtle, and sometimes downright confusing. In this session, we’ll start with a simple scaffold for understanding fungal lifestyles, and then add layers of detail to leave you with an enriched, sophisticated perspective on the interactions of fungi with other living creatures and their roles in global ecosystems.
Part 3: Dec. 5 – Cascadia: Fungal Paradise + North American Biogeography
- If you’ve been to the Pacific Northwest of the United States, it’s not hard to imagine why it is so rich in mushroom diversity: Dripping-wet temperate rainforests, high volcanic mountain ranges, sagebrush steppe, and everything in between. In this session, we’ll take a close look at the factors that make Cascadia so special, as well as taking time to situate it in the context of the rest of the continent – including compare-and-contrast exercises to give us a sense of how it all fits together.
Part 4: Dec. 12 – Fungal Conservation
- Although plants, birds, mammals, and even insects have well-developed conservation infrastructure in the United States; fungi have yet to receive the same level of effort and attention. In this session, we’ll cover what conservation of fungi in action might look like, how it differs from that of other groups of organisms, and why it might be especially important to introduce to land management plans. We’ll also go through an overview of what has been done in the United States and contrast it to fungal conservation efforts in Europe and elsewhere.
Part 5: Dec. 19 – The Next Ten Years of Amateur Mycology
- Our knowledge of North American mushroom diversity has grown by leaps and bounds over the past two decades, and shows no signs of slowing. Rather the opposite! But how do we make sense of this flood of new data? What challenges will we face in the coming years, and more importantly – what good does this knowledge do for conservationists? We’ll talk about some concrete goalposts and milestones for mycologically-focused community scientists, nonprofessionals, amateurs, and general natural history enthusiasts to contribute to the next phase of getting to know this particularly fascinating suite of our neighbors on the planet.
Christian Schwarz studied Ecology and Evolution at UC Santa Cruz, where his interest in the world of fungi became irrevocable – their seemingly endless forms (from the grotesque to the bizarre to the sublime) feed his curiosity. Christian now teaches Natural History of Fungi to undergraduates, and is a research associate of the Norris Center at UCSC. He is co-author of Mushrooms of the Redwood Coast, and now spends his time seeking, photographing, collecting, teaching about, and publishing research on the macrofungi of California and Arizona. He is a research associate of the Santa Barbara Botanic Garden, and is assembling a mycoflora for the California Channel Islands. He has also served on the IUCN Red List Working Group for North American Fungi, advocating for habitat conservation focused on fungi. He is passionate about biodiversity in general, and especially in the philosophy and practice of community science (especially through the use of iNaturalist). You can find his blog at www.Biodiversiphile.com
Noah Siegel has extensive mycology skills – with over three decades seeking, photographing, identifying, and furthering his knowledge about macrofungi. He has hunted for mushrooms throughout the United States and Canada, as well as on multiple expeditions to New Zealand and Australia and Cameroon. He is one of the premier mushroom photographers in the nation, having won numerous awards from the North American Mycological Association (NAMA) photography contest. His technique and attention to detail are unrivaled, arising from a philosophy of maximizing utility for identification purposes while maintaining a high degree of aesthetic appeal. His photographs have appeared on the covers and have been featured in articles of multiple issues of FUNGI Magazine, the primary mushroom enthusiast magazines in the United States, numerous mushroom books, as well as many club publications. He authored, along with Christian Schwarz, Mushrooms of the Redwood Coast, a comprehensive guide for the northern California coast, and A field Guide to the Rare Fungi of California’s National Forests. Noah travels and lectures extensively across America, following the mushrooms from coast to coast, and everywhere in between.