copied or sent electronically to other recorders. In today’s computerised world records are realistically of value to the local Natural History Society, or the county Wildlife Trust only if they can be entered into their respective databases.
If records are to be provided to these databases they will have to be supplied in some digital format (unfortunately it is likely that the formats used by these different organisations will differ, but this problem is gradually being overcome). This should not be a problem for the larger fungus groups, which will almost certainly have at least one computer expert within their membership. However, the lone keen mycologist or the very small group may have a problem and they will have to look for outside help to convert their written records into digital format. It should be stressed here that it is the records that are important. The method of recording, or the manner in which records are entered into a computer is less so. The BMSFRD Manager and Co- ordinator have the skills to accept computerised data in most forms and to manipulate it to suit the requirements of the national database.
With older records it cannot be expected that much more than the fungus name, the locality, the date and possibly the collector will be available. The grid reference and the vice-county could be added by the compiler. Even though such records would now be regarded as incomplete, they are still of great value for local and national records. For such abbreviated data the recorder may prefer to prepare a simplified database. This is acceptable – the incomplete data will be welcomed provided the few basic elements referred to above are included. The important message is that records in almost any electronic format can be accepted. If in doubt contact the Database Co-ordinator.
Foray record sheets (see Appendix 2)
These are intended primarily as aids to getting data from field observations into a computer database and are the sheets currently used at residential BMS forays. Each sheet can be used for records from one site, or from a number of sites. The information on the completed sheets can be entered into the computer quickly and efficiently. Because the indexing is by site the sheets are not ideal as a means of keeping personal or group records. Note that when earlier forms were printed the term medium was used to denote the substrate on which the fungus was found. Copies of the form are available at any major BMS foray or can be obtained by application to the Society Librarian (address given in Appendix 1).
Literature for the identification of fungi
The British Mycological Society has published a Guide to the Literature for the Identification of British Basidiomycetes (2001). For the committed field mycologist this contains a comprehensive list of European reference works including field guides, general keys, keys to selected families, monographs and references to papers in scientific journals. The most helpful books and keys are singled out and some are recommended as helpful to beginners, though ‘beginner’ is a relative term and those just taking up an interest in fungi will be better served by inexpensive field guides in the local bookstore. Information on how to obtain a copy of this Guide is given in Appendix 1.
Help with identification
A number of field mycologists have offered to provide help with the identification of genera or groups of fungi in which they take a special interest. Their names, addresses and specialities are listed in Appendix 6. When sending material to them you should provide descriptions of the