Saturday, 7 September 2019

A grassland waxcap identification tool

Check out this new grassland waxcap identification support tool — available now for field testing! Just click on this link.

It should work in any modern browser. (It won't work in Internet Explorer).

Please use the comments section below to share your user feedback.

It's been over eight months since I attended FSC Identikit training with Rich Burkmar in November 2018, organised by FSC Biolinks & Sussex Biodiversity Record Centre. I left with my brain burning with ideas. I'd just recently started getting into waxcaps following 'an introduction to grassland fungi' with Andy McLay from Natural England the month before. These things melded together in my mind, into an irresistible urge to make 'a waxcap thing'.

It's been a long road from there to here. The FSC Identikit technology is simple to use when you get your head round it, but the project also introduced me to the world of taxonomy where it seems even a well-trodden path can lead to challenges, conundrums and choices. 

My 'waxcap thing' turned into a 'grassland waxcap identification support tool', designed to assist with interpreting the list of grassland waxcap species in the recently published JNCC Guidelines for the Selection of Biological SSSIs: Chapter 14, Non-lichenised Fungi.

I haven't called it a key, because it's not always going to get you to a species identification. But I hope the tool will help with interpreting waxcaps' sometimes subtle, sometimes striking, and often variable characteristics and knowing when you can feel confident putting a name to a specimen, and when you might need to start looking at microscopic characteristics or be content with thinking "it's probably one of those ones".

I'm not going to say too much here about how I put this tool together. If you'd like to know more, perhaps I can interest you in my technical note? Accessible via the red 'PDF' button.

The tool is intended to be used in conjunction with David Boertmann's book: 'The genus Hygrocybe, 2nd revised edition'. If you're interested in identifying waxcaps, you need this book!

I've had advice and input from several expert mycologists while developing this tool. I'm very grateful to them and the generous people who've allowed me to use their photographs I couldn't have made this on my own. And I couldn't have got it onto the internet without the super skills of Bob Foreman at Sussex Biodiversity Record Centre. There's a full list of acknowledgements in the technical note and images are all individually credited.

Please have a play and let me know what you think. I'm particularly keen to find out if it works on real live waxcaps???

This is still very much a work in progress from my perspective and I'm open to ideas for how it could be improved. 

Please use the comments section below to share your user feedback.

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