Journal Article

  • Minority Taxa, Marginalised Collections: A focus on Fungi
    Smith, N.
    Journal of Natural Science Collections, Volume 7, pages 49 - 58

    Minority taxa, such as fungi, algae, lichens, ferns, and mosses, are taxa that receive a disproportionately small amount of public and curatorial interest. Whilst present in museums, they often form only a small part of an overall collection and possess characteristics that present barriers to engagement and, as such, are more likely than others to be neglected and suffer marginalisation. This paper explores how we can best handle minority taxa collections, using fungi as an example, in light of limited funding. It provides definitions for ‘minority taxa’ and ‘marginalised collections’ and gives a brief history of mycological collection within the UK before going on to make a case for the importance of these collections, both scientific and historical, showing practical examples for each. It assesses the likely impact of several potential pathways for management of these collections, given both limited staff and funding levels as well as the need to find a balance between a collection’s utility and its durability, and gives resources to enable curators and collection managers to make the most of their fungal collections. This is done with the ultimate aim of increasing curator’s confidence in working with unfamiliar material within an unfamiliar scientific landscape.

    Keywords: mushrooms, fungi, mycology, volunteers, local authority museums, British Mycological Society