2015: Current Research
The local research program involves building the Chicago Mycobiota through long term plot studies and related analysis and herbarium work plus involvement with the Illinois Mycological Association. Dr. Leacock seeks funding for the multiple components of his Chicago research. McHenry County Conservation District kindly contracted with Patrick in 2015 for another season of mushroom surveys at two sites. Several museum volunteers assist with herbarium work, identifications, and microscopy.
Illinois Mycological Association
Patrick increased his education, research and collections work with the Illinois Mycological Association as Scientific Advisor on forays and other events. He accepted the club's request to serve as President in 2015 and continues in 2016. The IMA provided support for five workshops in 2015, and another five in 2016, on mushroom identification and other topics.
Citizen Science at Somme Woods
IMA volunteers run a mushroom research project at Somme Woods in Northbrook, Illinois. Oak woodlands are a major habitat across the Chicago Region and county forest preserves are actively managing and restoring these ecosystems. See Video Introduction and see IMA Projects.
IMA member Reid Swenson is a volunteer with the restoration program at Somme Woods. Reid, Patrick and volunteers survey the mushrooms in relation to the restoration there. Stephen Packard, one of the stewards, gave Reid and Patrick a tour of Somme Woods through the areas with different types of oaks. A multi-year project will examine the response of mushrooms to oak woodland restoration. This involves 4 research plots to get real data on diversity. Each plot is sampled once a month from spring through autumn. There is an area that has not yet been cleared of buckthorn that has 2 plots: one plot in an area with no restoration will be compared with a second plot in the adjacent buckthorn area where restoration will start soon. We also established a plot with bur oak and a plot with swamp white oak. Field work involves collecting and recording the fungi in each division of the plots. Alternate field work days are spent walking through designated parts of the site to record the mushrooms associated with the different oaks and other trees. Collections are photographed, unknowns described, and specimens dried. Volunteer work at the Field Museum will be needed for boxing and labelling specimens for the herbarium. Volunteers will be trained in the different methods used.
Leacock has led many plot studies with Greg Mueller and colleagues across the Chicago area since 1997. These sites were generally good quality oak woodland or savanna. This work at Somme Woods will provide a look at habitat under new restoration work and particularly a multi-year sampling of buckthorn-choked woodland. There is a team of IMA members that participate in the project. If you are interested in assisting, please contact Patrick Leacock
If you want to help with restoration visit the North Branch Restoration Project. Or check out the other restoration projects near where you live: Chicago Wilderness Habitat Project.