In this talk, Dr. Demetra Kandalepas, wetland ecologist who studies fungi, takes us on a thoughtful and revealing tour through the world of fungi, describing the various forms and their utility to the world around us.
I’m a wetland ecologist that studies fungi. When I tell people I study wetlands, they get it. They know why that’s important.
When I tell them I study fungi, I get a lot of blank stares. I get some awkward silences. Some people actually are compelled to tell me about the black mold they found in their bathroom. I remember someone trying to explain to me that their uncle had a fungus on their toe and “Okay, good times. Yeah, that’s good.”
So, I do get some people that tell me that they don’t understand why I would study such a thing. In the grand scheme of things with all the problems going on in the world, fungi really don’t matter. Well, that hurts a little bit.
But I’m here to tell you that fungi do matter.
And you probably all have a reason for either hating or loving fungi, or both. I’m here to tell you that you probably can’t even imagine the scope of what fungi do for you every day and what they could potentially do for you.
So, when you think of fungi, you probably think about some of your favorite fermented foods or beverages. Yeah, those are all really great. Some of you might be avid mushroom hunters, like I am.
Some of you might opt to grow your fungi in a dark closet in the house. That’s okay too. I don’t question that.
But for all the things you think about when you think about fungi, I’ll bet you don’t think about what they really do. You don’t really have a true appreciation yet for what they do for us.
You probably don’t think about the fact that without fungi, we’d probably be buried under mountains of plant debris, and maybe animal carcasses, and quite literally, a lot of shit. These things are incredible composters. They are the garbage disposals of Nature.