Monday, May 30, 2016

Forest Fungi Citizen Scientist Opportunity

The Lankau lab at University of Wisconsin-Madison has created a citizen science program entitled FOREST FUNGI PROJECT. We need help from West Virginia for our second year of collections! This project was designed and initiated towards students and non-professional scientist volunteers. We designed a project that makes contributing to scientific research easy, fun, and educational for all ages. It is simple and free! Go to forested area and collect tree roots, soils, and take pictures. From an educational point of view, students have the opportunity to explore forested systems, can learn tree species, and appreciate species diversity below ground.
            We aim to understand how microbes (specifically, tree root associated fungi) can change due to climate change. Understanding the role of plant-fungal interactions for tree seedling growth and function, and how these interactions vary across climatic gradients. These data could substantially increase predictions for how forests will respond to warming climates. Additionally, this research will provide a first step toward developing management strategies for conserving biodiversity in the face of climate change through restoration projects that incorporate soil microbial communities as well as plant species.
            In our first year, 2015, Forest Fungi Project Citizens Science Project was a huge success. We have processed all samples and are now in the fungal identification process. Updates to those that contributed will follow shortly. We received samples from Illinois, Maryland, Michigan, North Carolina, New York, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Tennessee, Virginia, West Virginia, and Wisconsin. We received around 500 samples from 175 participants. The participants included 4-H groups, Master Naturalists, Master Gardeners, College and High School students, and volunteers at natural areas.
            Please visit our site ( to see how easy it is for your students and/or volunteers to contribute to this national scientific project. Additionally, I have an attached a field guide and protocol for easy access. Email questions and/or concerns to We welcome feedback.

(Note: click on link above and select sampling from the drop down menu.)

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