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Alexander von Humboldt Birthday Celebration: September 14th at 77th & Central Park West at 5 pm

Alexander von Humboldt

Born: September 14, 1769…………248th Birthday Celebration

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Meet 9/14 at 5pm at the Alexander von Humboldt bust at 77th & CPW

An equinoctial walk with a Humboldtian view of Central Park

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Latitude:   40.47 N    Sunrise: 6:36 am  Moonrise: 12:30 am

Longitude: 73.58 W   Sunset: 7:06 pm   Planets & Stars: see web

Altitude: 115 feet               Temp. range today: 63-76

Soil Composition: acidic     Precip. last 30 days: 4”; last 365: 50”

Rocks & Minerals: Manhattan Schist,          glacial boulders, etc.

Ground-level diversity: 400 plants, 400+ fungi, 350 animals

Tree-top diversity: undoc /Air quality:“good” (spores & pollen)

Subterranean diversity: 122,000 bacteria, 43,000 eukaryotes

Central Park Lake biodiversity: many protozoans & “algae”

Predominant pollen: ragweed, grasses and chenopods

 

The Take-Away: Central Park is not a miscellaneous assortment of plants but rather, seen through Humboldt’s prism, sets of overlapping communities of ecosystems housing organisms (within organisms) found throughout the recognized kingdoms of life. While you won’t find palm trees or alpine plants growing in Central Park, there is more to be discovered in this artificial piece of 19th Century landscape design than we have time to study, but time enough to admire.

Within feet of Humboldt’s bust there are mosses and ferns, ancient gymnosperms and modern flowering plants, as well as fungi and lichens, and all manner of animal life.

A few examples of natural connections in Central Park:

1 Over 1500 elms in the park serve as high-rise condominiums for nesting & feeding birds, bees & other insects, squirrels, and some edible mushrooms, differing as you rise to their tops!

2 Oaks are ectomycorrhizal, benefiting from a mutualism with fungi that furnishes them with hard to access nutrients.

3 Ginkgo has cyanobacteria fixing nitrogen on its roots.

4 Trees like willows, but many others, as well, either have or can synthesize salicylic acid, an important anti-inflammatory

drug that plants can use as needed for their vascular system.

5 Some large trees, like beech, can “feed” their nearby “children” through their roots assisted by mycorrhizal fungi.

6 Some weeds like crabgrass are C4 plants, far more efficient at photosynthesis than C3 plants, the vast majority in the park.

7 Plants, without known exception, have fungal endophytes living within their tissues, protecting them against drought, excessive heat, and predators. “Weeds” have more than most.

8 Dandelions flowering in early spring are essential for bees on warm late winter days that are out looking for nourishment.

9 Lichens are nearly ubiquitous on Central Park trees and rocks now because our air quality has improved since the 70’s.

10 The diversity of life in one drop of water in the Central Park Lake is greater than you have time to identify, even in winter!

 

References:

Humboldt, Alexander von. “Cosmos,” vols. 1 & 2

Humboldt, Alexander von. “Essay on the Geography of Plants”

Humboldt, Alexander von. “Personal Narrative of a Journey to the Equinoctial Regions of the New Continent”

Humboldt, Alexander von. “Views of Nature”

Walls, Laura Dassow. “The Passage to Cosmos: Alexander von Humboldt and the Shaping of America”

Wulf, Andrea. “The Invention of Nature: Alexander von Humboldt’s New World”

 

See Garylincoff.com – Central Park Ecosystem Worksheet

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MSA Award

 

THE MYCOLOGICAL SOCIETY OF AMERICA

 Founded in 1932

©Mycological Society of America

Dear Gary,                   May 2, 2017

Congratulations on receiving the Gordon and Tina Wasson Award for your outstanding contributions to the field

of mycology and for your efforts in educating the public about fungi. It is my pleasure as President of MSA

2016-2017 to make this special award formally and I realize just how much “citizen scientists” have to

contribute to society. Many people, both who become mycologists and those who are simply fascinated with the

enormous diversity of mushrooms that they see in the forest have likely referred to your Audubon’s Guide.

I am amused and enlightened by the information available on your website ( http://garylincoff.com/ ). It is

wonderful that you bring in the writings of such luminaries as Charles Darwin and Henry Thoreau to educate

your audience and I find it amusing that you have influenced the likes of Martha Stewart! In the words of one of

your supportive MSA members nominating you for this award, “He captures the very essence of a professional

amateur mycologist. He has educated and excited more people about mycology than practically any of us.”

Fundamentally, that’s what we are all about in MSA, the education and excitement of studying fungi and MSA

very much appreciates your work to bring these fascinating organisms to light for the public.

Your writing is prolific and your hosting of public forays and education workshops is tireless and generous. You

have not only written eight books on mycology but maintain an active blog with many followers. In public

activities, your MSA supporters note extensive work with NAMA, which itself contributes much to the public

awareness of fungi and to the MSA. Further, you are the co-founder of the Telluride Mushroom Festival, where

you have steadily improved the scientific content as well as the public’s enjoyment of mushrooms. Most

impressive to me (partly because I now have children living in NY City), is your work with the New York

Mycological Society. Not only is the commitment to running a foray every weekend impressive, but the fact that

you persist through the winter is a huge testament to your dedication to public education on the fungi.

Thank you so much for your continued activities and service to the improving public understanding of fungi.

The impact of your activities no doubt extend well beyond fungal biology to improving society’s understanding

of science and the role that science can play in their everyday lives.

Best wishes,

Georgiana May

Professor of Ecology, Evolution and Behavior, University of Minnesota

President of MSA 2016-2017

 

 

Gary 

 

Acceptance speech for the Gordon and Tina Wasson Award for 2017

My grandparents were immigrant shopkeepers, watch cleaners and, eventually, jewelers. My parents were professionals who, along with some of their brothers and sisters, were doctors. I don’t think the question “what do you want to do when you grow up” was ever asked of them. Having read Henry David Thoreau’s “Walden” at an impressionable age, I only knew that I didn’t want to find out when I came to die that I had not lived, whatever that meant. In a way not totally unlike Thoreau’s I was drawn to the woods, to a life “out-doors.” I didn’t know what interested me, partially because my undergraduate education was in philosophy. I somehow settled on MUSHROOMS, perhaps because it was thought of at the time as being of no account, a mere curiosity of nature, something that rotted everything else. My grandfather even had to say to me, when my behavior was already too far along to be corrected, “I like lettuce BUT I don’t study it!” Somehow I knew I was on the right track.

 I had the great good fortune to come under the tutelage of Dr. Clark T. Rogerson at the New York Botanical Garden, who showed me how he practiced mycology, something my uncle, an ophthalmologist , thought had to do with fungal diseases. Thanks to such giants in the fields of natural history and mycology as Dr. Sam Ristich and Dr. Rolf Singer, I came to appreciate not just the astounding beauty of mushrooms, but their place in the world, and in scientific classification. Had I not met R. Gordon Wasson, and soon after, Dr. Emanuel Salzman, the co-founder of the Telluride Mushroom Festival, I’d never have explored some of the places and met some of the people whose interactions with mushrooms so intrigued Gordon Wasson.

And, true to my roots, much like my jeweler grandparents I never have a loupe or hand-lens far from my eye.

I wish to thank MSA for this wonderful honor of making me a recipient of the Gordon and Tina Wasson Award. Given my non-traditional mycological background, I never imagined in my wildest mushroom dreams that I’d ever be so acknowledged by the Mycological Society of America! Thank you, so very much.’

Gary Lincoff

 

 

 

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Clades are here to stay…..a Paradigm for our Times

CladeTell

[Click on the image for an enlargement.]

Clades are used in Botany and Zoology, as well as Fungi – and what they have to tell us is not insignificant or irrelevant.

Clades can show us the lineages of organisms. Knowing how to see past appearances to the reality of things can direct our research in so many fields.

Clades can help us choose particular groups to search for medicinal benefits that would otherwise escape us.

Clades can help us choose particular groups to work with in our efforts to develop tools for bio-remediation and myco-remediation.

In mushrooms, “gills,” and “pores,” and “teeth,” and such, even “puffball-like,” are terms useful for field identification, but not to understand much beyond that.

The clades we now know cut across all these easily observed field characteristics to show us the “real” relationships our mushrooms have.

 

SEE WEBSIGTE PAGE for details

 

 

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ETHNOBOTANY

ETHNOBOTANY: A FIELD STUDY at the New York Botanical Garden

4 Wednesdays, June 8 – 29, 2016

.belladonna5

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