Missouri Botanical Garden Open Conference Systems, TDWG 2014 ANNUAL CONFERENCE

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Collecting ideas: We are making an e-book
Soili Stenroos, Vanamo Salo, Hanna Koivula, Dmitry Schigel

Last modified: 2014-10-21


The research programme of poorly known and threatened forest species (PUTTE) was started by Finland's Ministry of the Environment in 2003 and the current project period will end in 2016. The programme aims to fill in the knowledge gaps that have become increasingly apparent in the assessments of threatened species during the last few decades in Finland. The Finnish Museum of Natural History was funded from PUTTE II programme with the aim of producing high quality identification materials to be consumed both by those in environmental administration as well as nature enthusiasts to attract attention to new groups or organisms. In this case the targeted species groups are poorly known or “overlooked” fungi, for example microfungi inhabiting microniches formed by bryophytes, crustose lichens and parasitic fungi.

Parasitic fungi are species that are very small and often difficult to discover due to complicated life stages and forms or due to inhabiting odd microniches. There is very little taxonomic research on these species due to these impediments. The groups of parasitic fungi include rusts, smuts and mildews. All of the species are plant pathogens that naturally occur in Finland. The taxonomy, life cycle, distribution and threatened status are currently not well known. The role of these species in nature can be important even if they are poorly known. Some of the species are new to Finland and may be spreading vigorously.

The goal is to sort out the taxonomy of the above mentioned parasitic fungi, to update their nomenclature, and publish descriptions of new species. One objective is also to produce the DNA barcodes from a selection of species and to analyze the phylogeny of the most difficult species groups to clarify their taxonomy.  The ultimate goal is then to compile an identification guide that will be published as a printed book, as well as in electronic format. The electronic version will become part of the national FinBIF project web pages.

The previous guidebook was published in 1958, and there are only a few enthusiasts working on these fungi. Our project tries to improve both situations. With the help of the guidebook we can persuade new enthusiasts to enter the field by adding and supporting the biological knowledge. The guidebook can also be used as a textbook in the field courses. The electronic version of the book combined with collections of occurrence data and images are a tempting addition to the new generation of nature enthusiasts, who are accustomed to using materials and applications of this kind.

By describing new species and by clarifying the taxonomy of the known species, the project can collect new data and clarify the distribution and endangerment of parasitic fungi. The gathered materials benefit researchers, professionals of biology and of forestry, students, teachers and enthusiasts.