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Otto Loesel - 2008 Anne Hanes Natural History Award

The Anne Hanes Natural History Award is given in recognition of a member who, through independent study or investigation, has made a worthwhile contribution to our knowledge, understanding and appreciation of the natural history of the Ottawa Valley.

Otto Loesel is the recipient of this award for 2008, recognizing his years of independent study of woodrotting fungi (Polyporales) in the National Capital Region and in particular in Gatineau Park. Otto has a long-standing passionate interest in nature and a love of learning and teaching about the polypore fungi, for which he is a self-taught expert.

Otto has spent a large amount of time exploring and inventorying the fungi (mycoflora) of Gatineau Park of the National Capital Commission. Based on numerous field trips to different areas and habitats in the park, he developed a list of 106 species of fungi. Significantly, Otto recorded specimens of an unusual polypore (wood-rotting fungus that grows on snags and fallen tree trunks) in the Ottawa region eleven times, and later at 39 locations in Gatineau Park and the NCC Greenbelt and one at Larose Forest. Otto checked with experts, and it became evident that this unusual polypore was Trametes gibbosa, a species commonly found in Europe and which has recently been introduced to North America. Otto's specimens were the first recorded for Canada. Otto published an article in the September 2008 volume of Trail & Landscape on his discovery of Trametes gibbosa.

Otto is keen to share his knowledge of fungi, and last year he took the Macoun Field Club on a mushroom identification foray to identify species such as bracket fungi and crust fungi. He also has led walks to see the polypores of Gatineau Park. His depth of knowledge of fungi was beautifully demonstrated at one of the Tuesday evening OFNC monthly meetings when the scheduled speaker couldn't make it. Otto volunteered to give an impromptu talk on fungi, and it was fascinating from beginning to end. Otto also gave generously of his time in order to give two informal workshop on polypores at the Fletcher Wildlife Garden at which participants brought photos of unidentified polypores which he then helped them to identify and explained what they were. The workshops were tremendously interesting and an indication of how much Otto is willing to help anyone who shows a keen interest to learn more about polypores.

Otto is a member of the "mycologues amateurs de l'Outaouais" (amateur mycologists), and contributes photos of fungi to an Internet site. In 2006 he participated as a mushrooms (mycology) contributor to 2006 BioBlitz in the Larose Forest

We are delighted to present the Anne Hanes Natural History Award to Otto Loesel.

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