I am one of those observers who gets bothered when my observation sits too long unidentified. It motivates me to learn something new so that I can proactively move the ID forward myself.
Tonight, the observations bothering me is a slime mold. I am looking through pages of other slime mold observations, trying to find the nearest match. The problem is, of the ones that look most like mine, some are identified as a rarely-observed species, and others are not identified to species. Complicating this, there is a very commonly-observed species which at some stages looks kind of like mine, although most observations of it are at a stage that does not.
My Google search “slime mold identification” is just silly – mostly, the results are about how to tell if something is a slime mold. Is there a better source than just guessing which iNat observation is the best match?
I regularly identify slime moulds (molds) on iNat, and usually check the observations every day.
Some species are quite easy to identify, especially if the photos are good enough and they capture the various features necessary for identification, but many require microscopic examination, or SEM.
One of the problems with identifying even the common species is that they change shape and colour as they develop and progress from the plasmodium to the fruiting body stage. If people post only one photo that captures one moment in the development of a slime mould, it makes it very difficult to identify.
I have been observing and photographing slime moulds in northern Tasmania since 2010. I have a website that includes posts with ‘time lapse’ photos that show the development of some species to give an idea of how they change over time. (Stemonitis, Arcyria, Paradiachea), plus it has an illustrated glossary and a key.
The website also includes pdfs of many of the species I have found at my study site.
I have just published the fourth edition of my book “Where the Slime Mould Creeps” and will update details of availability on my website.
I hope it is useful.
I had wanted good examples for the original umbrella project but I’m fine to alllow Needs ID in the project. Especially when considering that there are many that do not move on to RG. I’m just going to wait a bit after putting a comment about it in the project journal to see if I get feedback to the contrary.
I was unable to identify your photo of the plasmodium. Identifying myxomycetes at the plasmodial stage is a bit like expecting people to identify plants from a photo of their roots.
I identified your observation of Fuligo septica. F. septica is probably the most common myxomycete observed on iNat. I do not spend a lot of time identify the species as it is one that other people can easily identify.
Well, seeing as that is standard iNat procedure – one organism at one moment in time – that raises a question: if the “time lapse” series are linked via comments, would that help to get all of them identified? I ask because that didn’t work with a moth.
Interesting question. If I take time lapse series I tend to include them in one observation, despite that not being standard iNat procedure.
If ‘time lapse’ are posted as per standard procedure and linked by comments, this poses particular challenges for people in my position i.e. living relatively remotely with very slow internet. I spend a lot of time as it is identifying myxos on iNat.
To answer your question: No it would not necessarily help to get them all identified. Many require microscopic examination and specialised texts to compare; species in the Stemonitidacea sometimes require SEM. Cribraria are known to be impossible to identify in some cases.
And then there is the problem of the great variety of form you see in fruiting bodies that arise from the same plasmodium.
There is an additional problem of finding undescribed species, as I have done at my study site. They include 4 now described, one in the process of being described and 3 awaiting DNA to confirm that they are undescribed species.
Most of the work on myxos has been in the northern hemisphere and south America, with little work on Australian species that resemble but don’t match published descriptions.