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Fundamental fungi resource to launch Wednesday


Fundamental fungi resource to be launched Wednesday

Conservation ministers from opposite sides of the world will attend the launch of the foundation volume of a definitive series of books on New Zealand fungi in Wellington tomorrow.

The Fungi of New Zealand – Nga Harore o Aotearoa series of books will provide an overview of all current knowledge on New Zealand fungi, and guides to identifying them.

The Minister of Conservation Hon. Chris Carter will officiate at the launch, accompanied by Hon. Ben Bradshaw, British Minister for Nature Conservation and Fisheries.

Landcare Research mycologist Dr Peter Buchanan says it will be an honour to have two conservation ministers from two hemispheres there.

“Britain is further ahead than New Zealand in the study of fungi, and Mr Bradshaw has responsibilities in conservation and plant health, which are both directly related to fungi.”

Introduction to the Fungi of New Zealand – The Fungi of New Zealand Volume 1 gives the first ever checklist of names of every fungus, including lichens, recorded in New Zealand – about 7,500 of them. New Zealand is possibly the first to produce such a countrywide listing. The book also collates traditional Maori knowledge of fungi.

Among other features is a 40-page bibliography of all taxonomic literature on New Zealand fungi, as a guide for researchers and students. There is also a set of colour photos of New Zealand’s most iconic fungi. The 500-page Volume 1 has 14 contributing authors, and is edited by Landcare Research mycologist Dr Eric McKenzie.

Volumes 2 and 3 are shorter, more specialised works that were launched earlier. Volume 2 focuses on smut fungi, which are the cause of serious plant diseases, and Volume 3, the myxomycetes (slime moulds), a fascinating and colourful group of primitive fungi.

Work has already begun on Volume 4, on fungi found on New Zealand trees and shrubs.

“The series will go on for decades,” Dr Buchanan says. “We have an estimated 22,000 species of fungi in New Zealand (compared with 4,000 to 5,000 higher plants) so the series will outlast our lifetimes without doubt.”

The Fungi of New Zealand Series launch: Turnbull House, 25 Bowen Street, Wellington, Wednesday 23 February, 3.30pm until 5pm. Media are welcome.


FURTHER FUNGI DATES FOR YOUR CALENDAR:

BioBlitz 2005, 3pm Saturday 12 March to 3pm Sunday 13 March: A 24-hour search for all different kinds of life. Organised by Landcare Research, a multi-disciplinary team of scientists will set up a temporary laboratory in a marquee and scour the Auckland Domain. They will record everything they find, dead or alive; from plants to fungi to fish to insects, and keep a running tally.

19th New Zealand Fungal Foray, 3–9 April: Forays are held every autumn in a different region of New Zealand – this year, it’s Ohakune. Fungi are collected with the Department of Conservation’s permission, identified and preserved for national collections. The event usually attracts at least 50 participants.


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