Sally Fryar

I am a fungal taxonomist, specialising in the marine and freshwater fungi of Australia. These are mostly ascomycetes and their asexual forms.

I completed my PhD at Flinders University in 1997 on the taxonomy and ecology of wood decay fungi (basidiomycetes), examining indirect effects of multi-species interactions. In 1998 I moved to Hong Kong as a postdoctoral fellow at the University of Hong Kong where I was introduced to the fascinating world of freshwater and marine fungi under the supervision of Professor Kevin Hyde. My research took me to various peat swamp forests, mangroves and streams in Borneo where I was a visiting fellow at the Universiti Brunei Darussalam. 

The challenge with studying marine and freshwater fungi is that species descriptions are scattered throughout the literature, often in obscure, inaccessible journals and with poor illustrations. While taking a career break to have children, I spent 10 years gathering as much literature as possible on marine and freshwater fungi, putting together a database on worldwide records of each species along with their descriptions.

My aim is to provide thorough, consistent, understandable descriptions of marine and freshwater fungi of Australia along with clear illustrations and images so that non-specialists are able to identify these species.

I often find new species and genera and I am in the process of describing and publishing a number of these along with phylogenetic analyses based on molecular data.

I am an adjunct senior lecturer at Flinders University where I do some teaching and molecular work.

5 responses
Lack of easy access to the literature is a common theme in taxonomic research. How useful has BHL been to you? Is there anything that would have made your literature searches easier?
Hi, BHL has been very helpful at times, but most of the literature that I needed was not on there. For older mycology literature Cyberliber (http://www.cybertruffle.org.uk/cyberliber/index...) has been extremely helpful. Also Mycobank (http://www.mycobank.org) is invaluable for finding taxonomic references. Mostly though I am extremely grateful to the staff at the document delivery section of the Flinders Library. They have sourced most of the older literature for me. What would have made literature searches easier? A database like Current Contents or Biological Abstracts that goes back to 1900 or further would be pretty amazing. Once I know of a reference, it's usually not too hard to get it, but so much information is lost in the older literature without an easy way to find it.
In spiders, we have the unbelievably helpful World Spider Catalog (http://wsc.nmbe.ch), which has all spider taxonomic literature online for each member to download. These are 14,043 references today, and of all known spider literature, only few obscure papers ( a total of 36!) are not for download. Of course, each species entry is listed to all papers that ever illustrated/described it. I couldn't live without the WSC!
Ideally all taxonomic literature would be globally discoverable and accessible. I've done. little work I this area, such as an attempt to link literature in the Australian Faunal Database to BHL, BioStor, Does, etc. see http://iphylo.org/~rpage/afd/ (it's a bit old and clunky). Resources like the World Spider Catalog are great, but limit access to a small set of users (I'm assuming because of copyright issues). Likewise, getting interlibrary loans, etc. for personal use solves the image problem a researcher has (I need to read this paper), but not the global problem of access. Furthermore limiting access also limits what we can do (e.g., no text mining). Maybe a first attempt would be to have a single, searchable index of all taxonomic literature, linked wherever possible to online versions. Australia is pretty lucky given how much of its taxonomic literature has been digitised, either by commercial publishers, the CSIRO, individual museums and herbaria, and BHL-AU.
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