There has been over the last 5 to 10 years a growth in the use of social media as a conduit between keen amateurs and professional scientists. This can be casual as in the case of Facebook groups which are often established by amateurs but which attract scientists who want to be part of the community. Or they may be more formal where such as Naturewatch (now rebranded as iNaturalistNZ) set up by scientists to capture and curate the observations of keen amateurs. I follow both iNaturalistNZ and four New Zealand fungal facebook page (also another 23 from around the world).
The upside is that I get to see peoples observations from around the country that 10 years ago I would never see. The downside is there is a lot of repetition and not much observation commentary to supplement the photo [see my blog A bread and butter knife, a dollar coin, a smartphone and a white sheet of paper].
This blog is about benefit of social media and citizen science using a species of Amanita as an example.Peter Austwick, a retired mycologist, first collected a strange Amanita in Northland near Mimiwhagata in 1995 growing in pasture (blue star on map).
He found it again in Northland on the Whangaparaoa Peninsula at Shakespeare Park in 2003 growing in an area of mowed grass [orange star]. Peter tentatively identified it as Amanita nauseosa. Here it stopped with one or two more collections being made at the same Shakespeare Park site over the next few years.The name “nauseosa” came from the original collection when it was described as smelling strong or sickening. Peter wrote in 2003 “I don’t remember any smell but handling the dried [New Zealand] specimens I had a streaming nose and eyes each time”.
Back in 1998, I wrote a summary of the origin of this species – “… Amanita nauseosa originally described in I918 from greenhouses at Kew Gardens (Wakefield I918) and rediscovered there, by Reid (I966). Bas (I969) speculated that A.nauseosa was originally either from South Africa, South America, or the U.S.A. Further collections were reported from Mexico (Guzman I975) and India (Watling I985). However, Young (I982) suggested that it was endemic to eastern Australia and this appears to have been supported by subsequent collecting (Young 1994)”.
Rod Tullos is of the opinion that Amanita nauseosa may be the same as Amanita manicata described from Sri Lanka collected before 1910. Thus its origin is still uncertain.
However, this looks like another mushroom species on the move around the world. It arrived in New Zealand at some point and has been sitting quietly in Northland. Then last year and again this year (2017-2018) it started showing up on iNaturlistNZ [the pink spots on the map] and the Facebook groups in the suburbs of Auckland as well as a collection from Great Barrier Island. It will be interesting to see if it spreads in a similar fashion to Amanita sp2. So I will be watching the social media to see where it pops up next.References
Bas C 1969. Morphology and subdivision of Amanita and a monograph of its section Lepidella. Persoonia 5: 285-579
Guzman G 1975. New and interesting species of Agaricales of Mexico. Beihefte Nova Hedwigia 51: 99-118
Reid DA 1966. Fungorum Rariorum Icones Coloratae – 1. Supplement to Nova Hedwigia 11.
RidleyGS 1998. Book reviews. Mycotaxon 66: 515-518
Tulloss RE, Possiel L. Amanita manicata. http://www.amanitaceae.org/?Amanita+manicata Retrieved 4 June 2018
Wakefield EM 1918. New and rare British fungi. Kew Bulletin: 229-233
Young AM 1982. Amanita nauseosa: an Australian species? Bulletin of the British Mycological Society 16: 202-208
Young AM 1994. Common Australian Fungi. 2nd ed. University of New South Wales Press, Sydney