A leading fungi expert has accidentally stumbled upon a new species in Scotland – as he walked home from work.
Dr Andy Taylor, from Aberdeen’s Macaulay Institute, noticed the Xerocomus bubalinus growing near a lime tree in the city’s Albyn Place. This very rare fungus was only described for the first time in 1991 in the Netherlands, and has not previously been recorded before in Scotland.
Dr Taylor said: “I couldn’t quite believe it that I had found this species, which isn’t supposed to occur here in Scotland, and that it was living right here under our noses.”
As well as his city centre find, Dr Taylor, a professional mycologist, also recently discovered a species (Russula vinososordida ) not found in the UK before, and another very rare species (Buchwaldoboletus lignicola) in the very grounds of the Macaulay Institute where he works.
“It is likely that there are many more undiscovered species right under our noses,” comments Dr Taylor, who whilst in Berkshire last year found and subsequently named a previously unknown fungal species, which is now considered so important by scientists that it is listed in the global top ten of all newly discovered species.
“Despite the fact that the mushroom season is just a few weeks old, and I have not yet had time to go looking properly, these are exciting finds.”
Dr Taylor only moved to the world renowned scientific institute in March this year following 11 years working abroad.
“The main reason for my amazing finds is that there are so few people in the UK with the necessary identification skills to be able to spot these species. There are hardly any professional mycologists with the necessary skills left in the UK, unlike many other European countries. Put simply, we just don’t know what, or how many, species of fungi we have here.”
“It is also true that some of these species may have recently arrived here from abroad as accidental introductions on imported trees, or they have spread as a result of climate change.”
“It is very likely that if we look hard enough, we will find many more new and previously unrecorded species of fungi right here on our doorstep.”
Unfortunately, he added, when he went back to check on his recent finds, some of the mushrooms had already been accidentally damaged.
“This is a great shame, but it does highlight the urgent need for detailed surveying of our fungal biodiversity so that we can give protection to rare and important species.”
Dr Taylor hopes to improve the understanding of Scottish fungi by carrying out large scale recording surveys using state of the art technologies, and by providing expertise to identify rare or difficult species.
This will be done in conjunction with local groups such as the Grampian Fungus group run by Liz Holden, and anyone interested in learning more about fungi can attend local forays organised by this group.
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