Giant fungus discovered in China


Giant fungus discovered in China

The most massive fruiting body of any fungus yet documented has been discovered growing on the underside of a tree in China.

The fruiting body, which is equivalent to the mushrooms produced by other fungi species, is up to 10m long, 80cm wide and weighs half a tonne.

That shatters the record held previously by a fungus growing in Kew Gardens in the UK.

The new giant fungus is thought to be at least 20 years old.

The first example of the new giant fungus was recorded by scientists in 2008 in Fujian Province, China, by Professor Yu-Cheng Dai of the Herbarium of biology at the Chinese Academy of Sciences in Shenyang and his assistant Dr Cui.

“But the type collection was not huge,” Prof Dai told BBC Nature.

However, “we found [the] giant one in Hainan Province in 2010.”

The researchers were in the field studying wood-decaying fungi when they happened upon the specimen, which they describe in the journal Fungal Biology.

“We were not specifically looking for this fungus; we did not know the fungus can grow so huge,” he said.

“We were surprised when we found it, and we did not recognise it in the forest because it is too large.”

The fungus, F. ellipsoidea, is what mycologists call a perennial polypore – otherise known as a bracket fungus.

Being a perennial, it can live for a number of years, which may have enabled it to grow to such large size.

By colonising the underside of the large fallen tree, the fungus also had a huge amount of dead and decaying wood to feed on, helping to fuel its growth.

Fruiting bodies, such as mushrooms and toadstools, are the sexual stages of a many higher types of fungi, producing seeds or spores that produce further generations.

The giant fruiting body of F. ellipsoidea forms a long, brown shape up to 10.85m long, 82-88cm wide, and 4.6-5.5cm thick.

Tests on the density of the fruiting body suggest the whole thing weighs 400-500kg; it is also estimated to hold some 450 million spores.

“A small piece of the fruiting body is almost like my size,” said Prof Dai.

The previous record holder was a specimen of Rigidoporus ulmarius, a polypore with a pileate fruiting body found in Kew Gardens in the UK in 2003.

It measured approximately 150cm in diameter with a circumference of 425cm.

After their initial encounter with the new record-breaking fungus, the scientists took samples of it back to the lab where to be analysed.

These tests revealed that the fungus was the species Fomitiporia ellipsoidea, and the researchers made two subsequent trips to study the specimen further.


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Filed under Conservation, Ecology, Evolution, Field studies

Selection of papers on Urban Ecology

Selection of papers on Urban Ecology from University of Salford, UK.


James P, Tzoulas K, Adams MD, Barber A, Box J, Breuste J, Elmqvist T, Frith M, Gordon C, Greening K, Haworth S, Kazmierczak AE, Johnston M, Korpela K, Moretti M, Niemelä J, Pauleit S, Roe MH, Sadler JP and Ward Thompson C (2009) Towards an integrated understanding of green space in the European built Environment. Urban Forestry & Urban Greening 8, 65-75. View at publishers.

Gledhill DG, James P and Davies DH (2008) Pond density as a determinant of aquatic species richness in an urban landscape. Landscape Ecology. [Online]. DOI: 10.1007/s10980-008-9292-x The original is available from the publishers here. In print publication pending.

Gledhill DG & James P (2008) Rethinking Urban Blue Spaces from a Landscape Perspective: Species, scale and the human element. Salzburger Geographische Arbeiten42, 151 – 164, Salzburg 2008

Box J (2007) Increasing the supply of local nature reserves. Town & Country Planning 76: 160-162.

Box J & Barker G (2007) Green grids and design codes. Town & Country Planning 76: 114-115

Box J, Berry S, Angus I, Cush P & Frost P (2007) Planning local nature reserves. Town & Country Planning 76: 392-395.

McDonnell MJ (2007) Restoring and managing biodiversity in an urbanizing world filled with tensions. Ecological Management & Restoration Vol 8 No 2 August 2007, Ecological Society of Australia.

Scott, A.V & James, P (2007) What is landscape scale conservation and how does it apply to urban regeneration? IN: Amaratunga D, Haigh R, Ruddock L and Alshawi M (Eds) Proceedings of the 7th international postgraduate conference in the built and human environment, 27th-29th March 2007.

Gledhill, D; James, P & Davies, D (2005) Urban ponds: A landscape of Multiple Meaning.5th International Postgraduate Research Conference in the Built and Human Environment, The Lowry Centre, Salford, 14th – 15th April 2005.

Tzoulas, K & James, P (2005) Surrogate measures for Biodiversity and human health and well-being . 5th International Postgraduate Research Conference in the Built and Human Environment, The Lowry Centre, Salford, 14th – 15th April 2005.

Dodouras, S & James, P, (2005) Participative & Integrative Techniques To Improve Multidisciplinary Communication: A Precursor To Producing Sustainability Profile Indicators.Environmental Accounting & Sustainable Development Indicators Conference, Jan Evangelista University & Charles University, Prague, Czech Republic

Dodouras, S & James P, (2004) Examining the sustainability impacts mega-sports events: Fuzzy mapping as a new integrated appraisal system. 4th International Postgraduate Research Conference in the Built and Human Environment, Salford, 29th March – 2nd April 2004.

Tzoulas, K & James, P(2004) Finding links between urban biodiversity and human health and well-being. 4th International Postgraduate Research Conference in the Built and Human Environment, Salford, 29th March – 2nd April 2004.


Lincoln University


Conference programme

The Role of Nature in the Built Environment, Sarel Cilliers, North West University, South Africa
Abstract (PDF 66 KB), handout (PDF 1 MB)

Cultural Literacy in the Built Environment, Hirini Matunga, Lincoln University
Abstract (PDF 63 KB), handout (PDF 513 KB)

The Importance of Nature for Human Well-Being: A Cultural Geographer’s Perspective on Nature and the City, Harvey Perkins, Lincoln University
Abstract (PDF 65 KB), handout (PDF 28 KB)

Natural Landforms, Artificial Substrates and Habitat in the Built Environment, Ian Lynn, Landcare Research
Abstract (PDF 68 KB), handout (PDF 426 KB)

The Role of Nature in Aesthetic Values: Globalisation and Westernisation of the Urban Environment, Maria Ignatieva and Jacky Bowring, Lincoln University
Abstract (PDF 69 KB), handout (PDF 527 KB)

Cities as Complex Landscapes – Part 1: Issues for Urban Greenspace Design, Simon Swaffield (Lincoln University) and Colin Meurk (Landcare Research).

Plant Communities and Biodiversity in the City, Glenn Stewart (Lincoln University), Ben Horne (Lincoln University), Toni Braddick (Lincoln University), Maria Ignatieva Lincoln University), Colin Meurk (Landcare Research)  and Hannah Buckley (Lincoln University) 
Abstract (PDF 69 KB), handout (PDF 196 KB)

Trees in Urban Environments: Which Species and Why? Ian Spellerberg (Lincoln University) and David Given (Christchurch City Council) 
Abstract (PDF 65 KB), handout (PDF 43 KB)

Maintaining Biodiversity and Ecosystem Processes in Cities and Towns, Mark McDonnell, Australian Research Centre for Urban Ecology, Melbourne
Abstract (PDF 65 KB),

Managing New Zealand Cities for Indigenous Wildlife, Colin Miskelly, Department of Conservation, Wellington
Abstract (PDF 66 KB), handout (PDF 654 KB)

Challenges for Pest Management in the Urban Environment, Bruce Chapman, Lincoln University
Abstract (PDF 62 KB), handout (PDF 689 KB)

Habitat potential of aquatic systems in the built environment: A Christchurch Perspective, Shelly McMurtrie (EOS Ecology) and Alistair Suren (National Institute of Water and Atmospheric Research) 
Abstract (PDF 68 KB), handout (PDF 2 MB)

Thinking Like a Tree: Short-Term Planning Ignores New Zealand’s Urban and Peri-Urban Development Crisis, Mark Bellingham, Aristos Consultants Ltd, Waitakere City
Abstract (PDF 67 KB), handout (PDF 596 KB)

Facilitating Nature’s Role in Urban Design: Integrating the Built and Natural Environments, Charles Eason (Landcare Research), Jenny Dixon2, Robert Vale (Landcare Research) and Marjorie van Roon (University of Auckland)
Abstract (PDF 66 KB), handout (PDF 557 KB)

Cities as Complex Landscapes – Part 2: Design Directions, Landscape Configurations and Biodiversity Opportunities, Colin Meurk (Landcare Research), Simon Swaffield (Lincoln University) and Graeme Hall (Landcare Research) 
Abstract (PDF 68 KB), handout (PDF 1 MB)


Urban Streamscapes: What do people want to see in their neighbourhood?, Stephanie Parkyn, John Quinn and Beth Quinn, National Institute of Water & Atmospheric Research
Abstract (PDF 7 KB)

Aidanfield (Christchurch): Low Impact Urban Design and Development (LIUDD): matching urban design and urban ecology, Maria Ignatieva, Frazer Baggaley, Charlotte Cameron, Antonia Guthrey and Angela Newall, Landscape Architecture Group, Lincoln University
Abstract (PDF 77 KB)


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The Birds of Singapore – Online Book


Our concept is very simple.  In fact, it might seem a little altruistic, possibly even anarchic!


We feel many reference books should be published on the World Wide Web, made freely accessible to anyone with a computer and an internet connection, especially books that are very rare or out of print.

It will facilitate research and will be environmentally friendly since students will no longer have to make reams of photo-copies at reference libraries.

The true concept, however, will be best applied to works-in-progress.  Many natural history books tend to get updated every five to ten years.  Buying such updates can become an expensive business for students or libraries, even for the publishers.

Published on the Web, minor corrections or major updates can be done even on a day-to-day basis, at practically no additional cost at all.  The book keeps on growing and, literally, becomes a living book!

The Birds of Singapore


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Filed under Biotechnolgy, Books, Ecology, Teaching

Citizen Science

From Scientific American Magazine:

What is Citizen Science?

Research often involves teams of scientists collaborating across continents. Now, using the power of the Internet, non-specialists are participating, too. Citizen Science falls into many categories. A pioneering project wasSETI@Home, which has harnessed the idle computing time of millions of participants in the search for extraterrestrial life. Citizen scientists also act as volunteer classifiers of heavenly objects, such as in Galaxy Zoo. They make observations of the natural world, as in The Great Sunflower Project. And they even solve puzzles to design proteins, such as FoldIt. We’ll add projects regularly—and please tell us about others you like as well.


List of Citizen Science Projects here.

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Whale Shark gathering

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Test Bio Lesson with Ipad

Introduction to Evolution


Evolution Pre-Test:

Complete this test in 15 minutes.


Main Contents

1. What is evolution?


2. How do species change and evolve?

– Keynote


How the owl butterfly may have gotten the spot on its wings

3. Clarifying misconceptions about Evolution:

Feedback and review:

Please enter your comments in the here.

3 things I learnt today

2 things I want to find out more about

1 question I have






Khan Academy:

How variation is introduced in a species.

Evolution Clarification


Sympatric speciation

Genes that drive speciation


IPad advantages:

Mobility –

Battery life

Versatile – drawing,


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Why do seahorses resemble horses? Nature News

Why do seahorses resemble horses? – January 25, 2011

The wacky, curvaceous shape of a sea horse makes it easier to catch its prey without having to go to the trouble of swimming very far, a new study in Nature Communications has found.

Seahorses employ a sit-and-wait strategy, hiding behind lush sea grasses till their meal – small shrimp or fish larvae – happen along. At that point, they snap their heads upwards toward the prey and use suction to draw the meal into their snouts.

The tendons of the rotational muscles of the fish are like elastics that snap the head upward remarkably quickly as the prey passes by. The whole process is called pivot feeding and takes about 5 milliseconds. Pipefish and sea dragons, which also fall in the Syngnathid family of fishes, use the same mechanism.

But why the seahorse evolved a head that is bent in relation to the rest of the body in a horse-like manner has been a mystery. Their evolutionary ancestors resembled the pipefish, with their trunk and head in a straight line.

Sam Van Wassenbergh at the University of Antwerp and his colleagues now suggest the bent head gives the seahorse an advantage by allowing it to move its head further and strike at a greater distance.

Consider the linear pipefish, Syngnathus leptorhynchus, which also uses the pivot feeding mechanism. When the creature rotates its head toward the prey to capture it, the sudden momentum is transferred down the body to create movement in the trunk. The head movement itself is restricted.

This is not a problem for fish that swim around while hunting, such as the pipefish, because they can compensate for a decreased head strike range by moving themselves forward, say the scientists. But for a creature that refuses to budge to hunt for food, even small improvements in its strike range can confer a fitness advantage.

In seahorses, the trunk is at a sharp angle to the head and so has significant inertia. When the head rotates, the trunk reacts but less than in a pipefish. In addition, there is a compressed region in the bent neck that snaps the head forward to increase the speed of the strike.

“When you shoot a rifle, you get a recoil movement. Same thing happens with seahorses,” says Wassenberg.

The researchers created a biomechanical model to study feeding, and confirmed their model by studying real world data collected from videos of prey capture by various seahorse and pipefish species.

“Results were quite spectacular, I think,” says Wassenberg.




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Filed under Evolution