Fungal Ecology: Beyond Decomposition

  • Start Date: September 23, 2022
  • End Date: September 24, 2022
  • Time: Fri evening lecture and Saturday field foray, see schedule below
  • City: Revelstoke BC
  • Venue: various field sites, classroom session at Okanagan College: 1401 1 St W, Revelstoke, BC V0E 2S0
  • Instructor: Tyson Ehlers and Robert Macrae

Course Description

Fungi have a long history intimately associated with plant and animal evolution. They frequently play beneficial and essential ecological roles as well as being parasitic to both plants and animals. Fungi, like all life, are being affected by the human disturbances and in particular the Climate Crisis. Throughout history, fungi have provided food, medicines, and technology. There are an estimated 18,000 fungal species in BC or approximately six times the number of plants per hectare although only some 3000 species have been documented. Further, fungi are generally overlooked and largely missing from ecological inventories.

This fun event will begin on Friday evening with an in-person presentation introducing students to fungal ecology and biology. We will explore the diverse niches fungi fill including and beyond decomposition. This will be preceded by an overview of how fungi are defined, the diversity of fungi, and the fungal way of life. Finally, the economic role of fungi will be discussed from commercially cultivated food to medicinal fungi. Demonstrations with compound and dissecting microscopes will be available before and after the talk.

On Saturday we’ll spend the day at a variety of field sites in the Revelstoke area. During this fungal foray, we’ll be looking for fungi and learning how to identify major groups. We will explore a variety of habitats and discuss the biology, ecology, and other mycological details of the specimens we find.

The course will inspire appreciation for fungi, while providing practical identification and collection techniques.


Event Schedule

Friday Sept 23 4pm – 9pm

  • We’ll start off with Pizza!  Then provide opportunities for live specimen microscope demonstrations, followed by an illustrated talk on Fungal Ecology: Beyond Decomposition
  • Location Okanagan College: 1401 1 St W, Revelstoke, BC V0E 2S0

Sat Sept 24 9am – 4pm

  • Fungal Foray: 2-3 field sites visits (site details provided to registrants closer to event date)
  • Detailed schedule available upon  request

 Who should attend?

This course will be of interest to students, ecological practitioners from all backgrounds, foragers, and interested public.


Our Instructors

Tyson Ehlers is a professional biologist and a forest ecologist from the Slocan Valley who has been fascinated by fungi for most of his life. He has worked on numerous mycological inventory and research projects throughout BC for over 20 years. His work on economically important wild-harvested mushrooms such as chanterelles and pine mushrooms has contributed to a better understanding of their ecology and recognition in forest management planning. Tyson has taught wild mushroom identification courses and guided at mushroom-themed events across BC for many years. He is a member of the Pacific Northwest Key Council, which was formed in 1974 to bring amateurs and professional mycologists together to further mycological knowledge. Tyson is an avid mushroom hunter and spends much of his time in the forest collecting mushrooms, both for the kitchen and for the microscope. Tyson has authored several mycological publications, including a guidebook to mushrooms in the Kootenays.

Robert Macrae has been a full-time environmental technology instructor at Selkirk College since 1996 and for six years prior at community colleges in Ontario. Before teaching, Mr. Macrae was a quality control supervisor and mushroom farmer. Mr. Macrae currently instructs courses in applied microbiology, environmental chemistry and sustainability and works on curriculum development and special events focusing on renewable energy within the Selkirk College School of Environment & Geomatics. In addition to his regular teaching assignments, Mr. Macrae delivers courses through the Selkirk College School of Continuing Education and other agencies on collecting and cultivating mushrooms, the origins of Santa Claus, understanding mortgages, and an introduction to renewable energy.


Preparation and what to bring

Come prepared to spend the whole day outside, rain or shine. We recommend you come prepared with a change of clothes, rain gear, and standard field gear including sturdy footwear, bear spray, a whistle, a knife, plenty of water, and food. You may also want to bring a GPS, a camera, a collecting container (basket/bucket/cloth bag), and a hand lens.

The following resources are not mandatory but are recommended:

  • Matchmaker Mushrooms of the Pacific Northwest – a free program to help identify mushrooms of the Pacific Northwest. It contains a database of over 4000 descriptions of gilled and nongilled mushrooms. There is an interface for entering mushroom characteristics to find species that fit those characteristics. There are over 5800 illustrations of over 2200 species, from 170 different photographers.
  • The following guidebooks have Tyson & Robert’s seal of approval:
    • Common Mushrooms of the Northwest, Duane Sept (2013)
    • Mushrooms Demystified, David Arora (1979)
    • All that the Rain Promises and More, David Arora (1991)
    • Mushrooms of the Pacific Northwest, Trudell and Ammirati. (2009)
    • Mushrooms of BC by Andy MacKinnon and Kem Luther. (2021)
    • Mushrooms and other Fungi of North America by Roger Phillips. (1991)
    • Mushrooms of Cascadia by Michael Beug. (2021)
    • Mushrooms of the Northwest by R. Marrone and D. Parker. (2019)
  • Finding the Mother Tree: Discovering the Wisdom of the Forest by Suzanne Simard (2021). This is a beautiful book and would provide some great background if read before participating in this course.


CMI Member: $165

Non-member:  $210

Friday night pizza provided.

Bagged lunches available for order for $15. Optional but recommended. Catered by La Baguette, includes a wrap, a baked good, some fruit and a house-made granola bar.

NOTE: You can purchase your membership at the same time as you register to save $45 on your registration fee.  See more about membership here.

Registration now closed. 


Where to stay?

There are many accommodation options in Revelstoke and we encourage you to look into your options. But to make things easier for you, we have set up a discounted group rate at the Stoke Hotel of $94 + tax /night, or $109+tax /night for double queen room. Hot breakfast included, outdoor hot tub on site. When booking your room ask for the rate arranged by the “Columbia Mountains Institute.”

You may also like the Monashee Inn. Again, this isn’t anything fancy but it’s clean, affordable and easy walking distance to downtown Revelstoke. We don’t have a room discount here, so inquire about rates via the website or telephone.


COVID19 Protocol

CMI will be following the guidelines provided by the Province of BC’s Public Health Authority to keep us all safe during the COVID19 Pandemic. See here for current protocols – all students must review this document before the field component of this course.


PHOTO: Tyson Ehlers


  • Phone 250-837-9311
  • Fax 250-837-9311
  • Email

Mailing Address

  • P.O. Box 2568
  • Revelstoke, British Columbia V0E 2S0
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