Sunday, June 6, 2010

Blomquist Foray

About two years ago now, I had the opportunity to help plan and lead the Hugo L. Blomquist Bryological and Lichenological Foray.  At the time, I was putting the finishing touches on the first edition of the Virginia Lichen Checklist (Hodkinson et al. 2009, so I decided to take the opportunity to bring a group of lichenologists to Virginia for a final collecting blitz!  While there were plenty of areas throughout the state that still required further collecting, southwestern Virginia seemed sufficiently unexplored (especially in terms of crustose lichens) and provided nice opportunities for lodging and easy fieldwork.

We were certainly rewarded with some great discoveries!  Collectively, we identified 41 state records, and had some especially significant findings, including:
Sphaerellothecium coniodes - a lichenicolous fungus that was not previously known to exist in North America;
Hypotrachyna lividescens - a primarily neotropical macrolichen that has not previously been reported from North America;
Pycnora praestabilis - a lignicolous crust not previously reported from any other location in eastern North America;
Heterodermia erecta - a foliose lichen previously known in the world only from a single small region of Georgia/North Carolina, and
Psilolechia clavulifera - a crustose lichen taxon previously reported from only one other location in eastern North America.

In addition, there were specimens that spurred on further studies.  For example, one species listed here, 'Punctelia caseana Lendemer & Hodkinson' (previously known either as Punctelia subrudecta or Punctelia perreticulata), was investigated using molecular tools and formally defined after these collections were made (for more on this new species, see Lendemer & Hodkinson 2010).  Also, specimens that were tentatively called 'Cladonia caespiticia ?' led us to re-evaluate the characters used to circumscribe this species (Lendemer & Hodkinson 2009).

It was only after the foray that I found out that the area is one of only a few parts of the country that is considered a true 'biodiversity hotspot' when diversity calculations are rarity-weighted.  The sheer diversity of lichens, along with the number of rare and/or potentially endangered taxa, highlights the need for continued preservation efforts in MRNRA and the southern Appalachian Mountains in general.

The discoveries made on the Foray are all outlined in an article that recently came out in the journal Castanea (Hodkinson 2010).  The publisher's website for the article can be found here, and a PDF of the article is available on my website.  Some photos of the foray are online in this album.

I encourage anyone who has a serious interest in lichens to please join us on the next Blomquist or Tuckerman Foray!


The Foray's official logo, designed by Donald M. Ziegler.

Acknowledgments: Many thanks are due to all of those who participated in the 2008 Blomquist Foray, especially those who submitted lists of identified specimens (J.G. Guccion, G. Perlmutter, W.R. Buck, R.C. Harris). I thank Richard C. Harris and James C. Lendemer for graciously verifying or identifying the majority of the collections, and Othmar Breuss for examining specimens representing Verrucariaceae. Kerry Knudsen is thanked both for reviewing this manuscript and for examining the collections of Acarospora sp. The author is grateful to Sarah Hodkinson for her assistance with Foray business, and with the collecting and cataloging of specimens. The author also thanks Fred Huber for showing us some of the best collection spots in MRNRA and giving us permission to collect lichens and mosses, Mike Donohue for assisting with field work, Jon Shaw for assisting with general Foray organization, and Blanka Shaw for coordinating communication and housing arrangements.

Works Cited:

Hodkinson, B. P. 2010. A First Assessment of Lichen Diversity for One of North America's 'Biodiversity Hotspots' in the Southern Appalachians of Virginia. Castanea 75(1): 126-133.
Download publication (PDF file)

Hodkinson, B. P., R. C. Harris, and M. A. Case. 2009. A Checklist of Virginia Lichens. Evansia 26(2): 64-88.
Download publication (PDF file)
View authors' updated checklist (website)

Lendemer, J. C., and B. P. Hodkinson. 2010. A new perspective on Punctelia subrudecta in North America: previously-rejected morphological characters corroborate molecular phylogenetic evidence and provide insight into an old problem. Lichenologist 42(4): 405-421.
Download publication (PDF file)
Download alignment (NEXUS file)

Lendemer, J. C., and B. P. Hodkinson. 2009. The Wisdom of Fools: new molecular and morphological insights into the North American apodetiate species of Cladonia. Opuscula Philolichenum 7: 79-100.
Download publication (PDF file)
Download alignment (NEXUS file)


  1. Neat. Do checklists exist for other states? If so, how can I obtain copies of them?

  2. This wiki page compiles a lot of the easily-accessible web-based checklists:
    However, there are many many more checklists out there, and the best way to find them is through the Recent Literature on Lichens database:
    A quick search for 'checklist' yields over 400 hits! Many of the articles themselves are actually accessible through the database, so it's a great resource for all things lichenological!