Thompson Island, and the tale of my undergrads making it up to me

The day had taken a bad start. One of my undergraduate students had texted me, saying both of them would be too late and “we should be going already”  and they “would take the next boat.” They probably didn’t think of the fact that Thompson Island is a privately owned island and, hence, there would be no next boat. I said they would have to make it up to me by – whatever, I thought at that moment, and I choose for – collecting at the Fresh Pond. So far for my undergraduate students contributing to the All-Taxa Inventory of Fungal Biodiversity at the Boston Harbor Islands, Massachusetts.

Luckily, all other participants had made it to the boat to Thompson Island on time. It was a beautiful day, too beautiful, to be honest. It was dry. Not an ideal starting point for a mushroom foray. I was hopeful, though; just a few weeks ago, on a day even warmer and drier than today, Lawrence Larry Millman, my wife, and I were at Thompson Island finding so many collections that we didn’t even see half of the island. So after a round of introductions, giving some information about the National Park Service and collecting instructions, we took off … to find mainly a bunch of polypores.

Here’s a first shortlist of what we got out of this walk:
Apiosporina morbosa
Armillaria cf. mellea (honey mushroom)
Daedaleopsis confragosa (thin-maze flat polypore)
Ganoderma applanatum (artist’s conk)
- Irpex lacteus (milk-white toothed polypore)
Phellinus spp.
Piptoporus betulinus (birch polypore)
Polyporus alveolaris
Polyporus squamosus (dryad’s saddle)
Schizophyllum commune (common split gill)
Scleroderma citrinum (pigskin poison puffball)
Strobilomyces floccopus (old man of the woods)
Trametes versicolor (turkey tail)
Trichaptum biforme (violet toothed polypore)

We actually found A LOT of collections, but many of them were more of the same species. I think we had about twenty or so collections of Trichaptum biforme, and at some point I could not see any more puffball (Scleroderma citrinum).

In this list I did not yet mention the interesting ascomycete-on-wood collection, a collection of orange discomycetes, some myxomycete, a pathogen on leaves of maple, and a species of oomycetes.

Oh, and at the end of the day I received a text from my undergraduate student “you will be proud of us that we collected so many lady beetles” while the other added in his message that “they have Laboulbeniales”, meaning that I may have fresh thalli of Hesperomyces virescens for my phylogenetic analyses. Well, that, fortunately, was some great news.


Scleroderma citrinum Pers. 1801


Trichaptum biforme (Fr.) Ryvarden 1972

De rol van tijdelijke soortvorming in evolutie

De oorsprong der soorten. Iedereen heeft er wellicht van gehoord. Of erin gelezen. In 1849 publiceerde Charles Darwin één van de belangrijkste boeken in de geschiedenis van de evolutiebiologie. Het meest innoverende idee uit De oorsprong is dat van de natuurlijke selectie. Hoewel erg simpel en overtuigend, heeft het evenwel bijna een eeuw geduurd vooraleer het algemeen werd aanvaard. Lees verder

Climate change and shrinking fishes

Anthropogenic global warming is everywhere. Nearly every week, new research with impacts of a warming Earth gets published. Global climate change is recognized as an important determining factor for the future distributions of marine organisms, notably fishes and invertebrates. It had already been suggested that the most prominent biological responses are changes in distribution, phenology, and productivity. Lees verder

Leven in een broeikas: het opbouwen van een eenvoudig klimaatmodel

In de berichtgeving over het klimaat worden we er nogal eens met om de oren gesmeten: klimaatmodellen. Maar hoe ontstaan die nu eigenlijk? Welke factoren worden erin meegenomen? En zijn ze echt zo onbetrouwbaar als klimaatsceptici ons willen doen geloven?


Leven in een broeikas: het opbouwen van een eenvoudig klimaatmodel –

Great research, unexpected conclusion – Why fish is so good for you (?)

A few weeks ago I encountered two articles about unsaturated omega-3 fatty acids and their mechanism. Great research, but the tagline that was coupled with these studies – Why fish is so good for you – came rather unexpected. What follows are some commentary thoughts that have been crossing my mind since then. Lees verder

Gene Variants of a “Stress” Gene Have Profound Impacts on Health

Scientists can study stress by observing people who suffer from it. What are the physiological changes these people undergo, if any? Is their appetite normal? And what about the heart rate? Lots of observations are possible, meaning there a lot of ways to approach scientific research on stress. But now, researcher Liesbeth van Rossum of the Erasmus Medical Center (Netherlands) has found another way to study stress: by looking on the gene-scale level. She discovered that one gene in particular is important for the way we deal with stress. Interestingly, alternative forms of this gene are associated with differences in body composition and metabolic factors. Lees verder

Haaien niet langer naar de haaien?

Donderdag 14 maart 2013 was een belangrijke dag, ook voor de fans van het Higgs-deeltje, maar vooral voor de haaien. Die dag, tijdens de driejaarlijkse CITES-conferentie in Bangkok, keurden de overheden van 177 landen het voorstel goed om vijf soorten haaien op te nemen in de zogenoemde Appendix II. Lees verder

Er was eens … een opwarmende aarde

De opwarming van de aarde: iedereen praat erover, maar voor één op vijf is de kwestie een ver-van-mijn-bedshow (letterlijk: “totaal onbelangrijk“). Hoewel een mede door mensen veroorzaakte opwarming van de aarde voor een grote meerderheid van de wetenschappelijke wereld vaststaat, bestaat er voor de publieke opinie best nog veel onduidelijkheid, zo blijkt. Terecht, of niet? Lees verder

Has evolutionary history led us to today’s rapes?

My mother always said that the world has come to its end. In a way, she was right. Not literally, of course. The earth will not stop turning around the sun. I’m talking about our species here. We think we are good in what we do, and, again, in a way, that is true. In only a few thousand years we have developed the skills to look through microscopes and see microscopic cells floating around in media we made ourselves, to manipulate genetic content in order to obtain the ideal crop, and to have a man walking on the moon. These unique and extraordinary skills, however, do not mean that we are no longer part of nature, although we often want to believe that. Lees verder

Fatty acid-rich fish stocks: a sixth extinction crisis

We’ve all heard news reports about the benefits of eating fish, and replacing some red meat meals with fish as an alternative source of protein. Fish contains a lot of minerals, including iodine and selenium, which are beneficial for the human body. Most fish species are lean and therefore fit perfectly in a healthy diet. Fattier fish species, such as salmon, offer other benefits: they are full of unsaturated omega-3 fatty acids, which are important for optimal functioning of cells and organs, and for good development of the central nervous system. Unfortunately, these important health benefits are leading to increased demand for these species, which now threatens global aquatic biodiversity.

Lees verder