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Friday, August 14 • 10:00am - 11:00am
Underground connection: Mushrooms and Pines in Peril

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Slippery Jacks (Suillus) and Pogies (Rhizopogon) have partnered with pines for thousands of years. Now whitebark pines are losing their battle to remain on earth. Will these mushrooms come to the rescue? Whitebarks are magnificent craggy trees that silhouette themselves against the sky and form deep green forests at treeline high in the Northern Rocky Mountains. Attacks by blister rust and pine beetles have taken their toll; the pines are rapidly disappearing, leaving only ghostly white trunks. Incredibly, the pines depend on nutcracker birds to plant their seeds. They also require an array of Slippery Jacks and ‘Pogies’ to sustain them. These mycorrhizal fungi in turn are often dependent on squirrels, deer, elk, grizzly bears, and black bears that sniff out and eat their fruiting bodies and spread spores in droppings. Lives of organisms here are so intertwined that loss of this keystone pine will affect all. Using nature as a guide, we are replacing lost forests with rust-resistant seedlings along with their natural fungal partners. Saving the mushrooms, that could help save the pines, drives our myco-reforestation efforts.

Photo: Ghost forest of whitebark pine “skeletons.” Credit: Dr. Cathy L. Cripps 

avatar for Cathy Cripps

Cathy Cripps

Cathy Cripps, PhD has collected mushrooms in the Rocky Mountains for over 40 years, first as an amateur when she lived in a small cabin near Crested Butte, Colorado and later as a professor at Montana State University doing research. She claims to have been ‘found’ in 1980 by an eclectic group of traveling mycologists (led by the Salzmans) who held the precursor to the Telluride Mushroom Festival in Gothic, Colorado, right over... Read More →

Friday August 14, 2015 10:00am - 11:00am
Sheridan Opera House 110 N Oak St, Telluride, CO 81435

Attendees (9)