This website is designed as a biodiversity information system for fungi (including lichens) for the British Isles (i.e. the United Kingdom and Ireland). Its objective is to provide technical (but approachable) accounts of the species, including descriptions, images, distribution data, ecology and conservation information. It is aimed at those with a serious interest in fungi, either as natural historians or professional biologists.
Much of the data on non-lichenized fungi originated from a project funded by NERC in the 1990s to prepare a taxonomic account of the Ascomycota of Great Britain and Ireland. The main project partners were CABI, the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew and Liverpool John Moores University, along with a large number of other individual scientists and institutions that contributed accounts of genera. Much valuable work was done and a number of short papers were published by the project partners, but the volume as a whole was never completed. This website provides a mechanism for making much of this unpublished data accessible to the public. The species accounts given here have been updated in some respects in the light of recent research, but some of the information provided (especially regarding distributions) needs further work. Geographical information should therefore be approached with caution, both in the text and in the maps provided which contain some unverified data.
A second major source of information has been a project to acquire colour images of British fungi. This originated in part with the need to generate images for a CABI publication on the Fungal Families of the World but has been greatly expanded since, especially with regard to lichenized fungi.
There are approximately 15300 fungal species recorded to date from the British Isles, and the number is increasing steadily. The size of the task is such that support is needed from a wide range of individuals, organizations and institutions, and a consortium approach is currently being adopted. The Fungi of Great Britain and Ireland website is one of the formal projects of the Mycology Department at Kew, and the initiative is currently centred here. Scientists from the lichenology groups at the Natural History Museum, London have agreed to participate in the project, and it is hoped the consortium can be expanded to include the Royal Botanic Garden, Edinburgh and other centres of fungal knowledge in Great Britain and Ireland.
Partnerships are being actively pursued with the British Lichen Society and also the British Mycological Society. Members of these organizations currently contribute a large proportion of the newly generated knowledge on British and Irish fungi (as well as historical data). Their involvement will allow the site to expand at a substantially greater rate than has been the case to date, and will improve its long-term sustainability. Much valued assistance has also been provided by many individual scientists and natural historians, especially in the provision of images.
Priorities for addition of content are needed, as the amount of accessible information greatly exceeds the capacity of those currently involved in the programme. Almost all current effort is being devoted to the Ascomycota, which along with the Basidiomycota comprises the great majority of fungal species in Great Britain and Ireland. Many groups of Ascomycota are in urgent need of taxonomic revision, images of the less charismatic taxa are difficult to access elsewhere, and there is currently no modern phylum-level checklist accessible on the Internet to complement the Checklist of British and Irish Basidiomycota.
A new account of the Lichens of Great Britain and Ireland was published by the British Lichen Society in 2009, and preliminary discussions are taking place to plan for a further revision. To support this initiative, accounts of species of lichens and lichenicolous fungi newly reported from the British Isles subsequent to publication of the book are being targeted, and can be accessed via the "New Reports" tab on the home page of this website.