Fungus ID frustrations

edit again almost 4 years later --- it's not worth your time reading this really; it's nothing groundbreaking. Most examples are no longer pertinent or you're already familiar with them if you've spent any length of time here. i may delete it eventually


Edit: It's been 7 months and I realize as I was writing this in my overzealous newbie haze I was being a bit harsh...plz don't take anything personally...we're all working together to smooth out inat's kinks. But even so, many of my concerns still stand:

I am going to use this journal to vent about the frustrations of IDing fungi on Inat while pretending that people are actually listening to me. Here are some problems I've noticed lately:

Not enough identifiers - Animals seem to get identified the day they are observed. Plants might take a few days. Fungi will sit unidentified for months or years. I am trying to fix this, at least in Ontario where I live and am most comfortable with the local funga (think "flora" or "fauna"). If I stumble upon a fungal observation and don't immediately know what it is, I will click around on mycoquebec until I find it (I'm tellin' ya, I have no life. I consider this fun). Usually I can get it narrowed down to a few species, but then the dilemma starts. If I am still unsure of the species, do I identify it as that species? Or do I do nothing? If I do nothing, I've wasted my time and made no progress in slashing the pile of unidentified fungi and it will fall to someone else to do that, which may take a very long time or not even happen at all (If I can't figure out what it is, there really aren't too many people who can). But if I identify it as my uncertain species, then the observer might agree and promote it to research grade even if none of us are entirely sure. And if it is indeed wrong, the chances of someone coming along who can correct it are very slim as well.

Taxonomy - This is a classic problem: Inat recognizes three separate synonyms of Hydnochaete olivacea. I just reported mine as the aforementioned one because it seemed to be the most-used. Another problem: I have always called my honey mushrooms with no yellow anywhere (which is most of them) Armillaria ostoyae. It has 124 observations to A. mellea's 2,696 (Jun 27 2019). It is obviously underreported, or is something else at play here? Is it going by a different name? A lot of the time I see observations that I would call A. ostoyae that are IDed as A. mellea, and some of them are even research grade. However, most of the Armillaria observations are just sitting there as Armillaria sp. Can we not do better? Have I been identifying these wrong my whole life? Or are people just unaware that A. ostoyae exists? A similar problem I just had to deal with is the Gyromitras, G. gigas, montana, & korfii. Are they the same thing? Are they different? People are reporting G. montana from Ontario even though supposedly it is a species from western N. A. That is not the fault of the observer, who obviously is just taking suggestions from the computer, but for me, the identifier, I don't know what to identify them as because I'm confused about the status of these species. There are a lot of other examples like these that I can't think of right now...I'm not suggesting anybody "fix" these problems because I don't know what the solution is.

Computer vision - Seriously what is up with winter russulas? Half of the red russulas I see are labeled as "winter russula, Russula cremoricolor". I have NEVER EVEN HEARD of winter russula, Russula cremoricolor. Mycoquebec has it, so it must occur around here, but they don't even have any photos, so you know it's rare. Plus they say it's white. I think there are red forms on the west coast, and maybe what happened is so many people started reporting it there that the algorithm decided it was the best option for red russulas everywhere. This started a positive feedback loop in which the more people reported it everywhere, the likelier it would be to get suggested. I have been thinking of ways to solve this. Perhaps, instead of suggesting winter russula, the computer says, "This is genus russula but it is a very large and confusing genus so don't even try to identify it to species until you've got yourself a nice microscope and a bunch of fancy chemicals".

I only joined Inat 3 months ago; my views will inevitably change as I gain more experience. I suppose I will have to update this as I see fit. More to come :)

(If somebody is actually reading this, thank you, and feel free to leave your opinion in a comment)

Publicado el jueves, 27 de junio de 2019 a las 07:21 PM por n_russell n_russell


I read and appreciated your comments. I am new to this site and new to trying to make precise identifications of species. Fungi identification intimidates me the most. I have ventured past the genus line a couple of times but with great hesitation. I have several more fungi obs to post but I am very unsure of the identification. Is there a resource besides this site that is helpful?

Anotado por crannmornature hace mas de 4 años

Hi Rodney - yes, thanks for the comment. When you're starting out, a field guide can be very helpful. Part of the beauty of a field guide is that it teaches you to recognize what group a particular mushroom might fall into and then you can verify online later if you want to. The guide that got me into mushrooms, and the one that is consistently recommended to beginners, is George Barron's Mushrooms of Northeast North America. Browsing the nature isle of your local bookstore is likely to turn up this book or a similar book, such as the National Audubon Society's guide by Gary Lincoff. In terms of websites, is useful. Mycoquebec is a somewhat confusing site so you have to have a some experience already and have a general idea of what you're doing (and be able to speak french; when I try to translate the page to make it easier, it botches it up) plus you are in Kentucky - correct? So it might be a bit out of your range.

Anotado por n_russell hace mas de 4 años

If you yourself have observations of fungi that you are unsure of, it doesn't hurt to post them, even just as "fungi including lichens" and somebody with a bit more experience will find them - or I'd be happy to take a look at them :)

Anotado por n_russell hace mas de 4 años

Thank you very much for your helpful suggestions. I will check them out.

Anotado por crannmornature hace mas de 4 años

Nate, I am a newby too, but I am a hobbiest not a scientist. I wish I formal training but alas. I study what the local library and the Internet has to offer as well as ask for advice from the county park naturalists. I do not know a mycologist. Thank you for responding to the few posts I have made on INaturalist (a tip from our county's head naturalist). You suggested that I include a location to one of my posts but I do not know the website well enough to know how to edit it. Is an address sufficient or do I need coordinates? If you'd be willing to help me, I have many other mushroom photos to post. I llive in Ottawa County, MI which is on the coast of Lake Michigan.

Anotado por treefrog48 hace casi 4 años

If you're using the website, there is a blue "edit" button at the top right of the observation. The app is different, so I'm told. There will be a map which you can scroll in and click a location. Be specific if you know where it was but if you're not exactly sure, have the little circle around the point cover the general area where it was found. It'll take lat/long if you have it, probably not an address though. I sometimes have google maps open on the side which will take addresses then match it to the map in iNat. GPS makes things easier. And please, upload any and all photos you have! (button's at the top) It should ask for the location when you upload. Even a broad idea of where it was found is much more helpful than no idea at all. If you need more help there's lots of info here

Anotado por n_russell hace casi 4 años

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