20, 2002 19:15 PDT
I've been secretly reading your list for a while, and I figured
I'd introduce myself and ask a question.
Heres my intro:
I'm Heather, I come from VT, having thoroughly fallen in love
with vermonts mountains, forests, streams, rocks with
Umbilicaria lichens the size of dinner plates with black velvet
undersides, ravens, squishy mossy boreal forest floors,
Bicknells thrushes, winter wrens, sunrises over the whites,
sunsets over lake champlain, etc... I'll be back:)
Right now, im out here in ithaca, NY, working on BSs in biology
(concentration on systematics and biotic diversity) and in plant
science at Cornell. i'm learning about lots of amazing stuff
like forest ecology, soil ecology, nutrient cycling, entomology,
mycology, and botany.
Heres my question: I'm working right now on the lichen flora of
this wetland complex near Ithaca, and I'm noticing lichens
growing on combinations of trees that I wouldn't have expected.
I'm wondering if anyone can give me a reference about books that
might tell me how different tree barks might be as a substrate,
info about pH, secondary metabolites in bark, and nutrient
availability in particular might be interesting.
I've noticed a few species of lichen (especially Graphis scripta,
the elven rune lichen) that seem to particularly like Musclewood
and Yellow Birch, which I wouldnt expect because of the rather
dramatically different textures of the bark. maybe the habitats
that musclewood and yellow birch grow in are similar in humidity
and sunlight levels, or maybe theres some reason it just likes
the Betulaceae. I definitely need to explore these sorts of
connections further, I'd love any insight about this yellow
birch / Carpinus connection. I would also delight in reading any
more general references on tree bark as a delicious place to
21, 2002 05:19 PDT
Welcome aboard and thanks for passing the fascinating question
on lichens our way. I'm copying Philip May on my response. He is
a lichenologist here in Massachusetts and may be able to help or
at least steer you in the right direction. You may want to check
out the website www.MtEverett.org. Check out "Lichen Survey
of Mount Everett Summit Southwest Berkshire County,
Massachusetts - PDF". The referenced survey is Phil May's
In terms of lichen affinity for
trees, especially very old trees, Dr. Steve Selva of the
University of Maine has done excellent work. A summary of some
of his findings can be found in "Eastern Old Growth Forests
- Prospects for Rediscovery and Recovery", edited by Dr.
Mary Byrd Davis and published by Island Press in 1996. I don't
recall if Selva deals directly with the two trees species you
mentioned, but may have knowledge of lichens that colonize on
Lastly and hopefully, others on this list will address your
question. I wish I could, but regrettably lichens are not my
specialty. I am nonetheless interested in the kinds of
associations you've apparently observed and will continue to
help look for sources of information.
21, 2002 11:43 PDT
Look up Steve Selva @ Fort Kent (either University or
sure)in northern Maine. He's the nonvascular Yoda of the
what I've heard and may have serious links and help that should
you lichen. (couldnt resist).
You should also look into hooking up with Bob et al some weekend
or eastern NY to show us a thing or two on the nonvascular
are very few field non-vascular types out there (that I know of
14, 2003 15:05 PDT
The following is an excerpt from a
report put out by the GSMNP. First the report and then comments.
INVENTORY AND MONITORING - Keith Langdon, Branch Chief
EXTREME DIS-JUNCTS..AND NEW SPECIES, TOO: We have just received
the final report for some lichen work. Dr. Tor Tonsberg,
lichenologist at the University of Bergen in Norway, spent 10
days in the Smokies last summer with support from Discover Life
in America, and his university. Tonsberg is an authority on
temperate and boreal lichens, especially the crustose species.
Lichens are both an alga and fungi that combine by providing
water and/or nutrients to each other. They dominate large areas
of the Polar Regions.
Tonsberg found 41 species that were previously unrecorded in the
Park, including 10 genera (groups of closely related species)
not previously recorded. Of these 41, eight are new to science!
Additionally there were several extreme range expansions.
Catillaria croatica were only previously from a single site in
the Balkans. There were also a group of species he found that
were located only at high elevations in the Park. Three of these
were previously known only from the wet, lowlands of the Pacific
Northwest; and another species was known only from the Pacific
Northwest and the island of Newfoundland. These extreme dis-junctions
of thousands of miles in distribution are sometimes evidence of
very different past climatic conditions when species had
radically different ranges.
Tonsberg also found more species in the genus Leparia than he
has seen anywhere else in the world - four of the species new to
science were in this genus and he believes there are additional
undescribed taxa. Leparia are called the Dust Lichens, because
it is impossible to wet them with liquid water due the surface
tension caused by dust like particles on the surface. They grow
in the wettest environments.
He did not get to the extensive high elevation areas in the
eastern part of the Smokies, due to its remoteness, but overall,
not bad for 10 days work! We consider the rapid discovery of so
many species in such a short period of time, as further evidence
of how little we know of the natural areas in this country.