Wednesday, February 1, 2012

NYBG Lichenology - Year in Review

Recently, Bill Buck of the New York Botanical Garden wrote up a summary of the past year in cryptogamic botany at NYBG.  A portion of this was specifically on lichenology, which I have reproduced below:

"This was a monumental year at New York for lichenology. Several things all came together. First, our lichenologists, led by graduate student James Lendemer, have prepared a manuscript on the lichens of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, based on their own recent collections and increasing the lichens known from the park by over 60%! This will be published in the Garden’s Memoir series. Next, we received a National Science Foundation grant to digitize our North American bryophytes and lichens. As part of this project we brought to New York Dr. Brendan Hodkinson, who just finished his Ph.D. at Duke University looking at the role that bacteria play in the lichen symbiosis. He is organizing the project and coordinating with other centers of the project. Next, we heard from Dr. Jonathan Dey, at Illinois Wesleyan University, that he would donate his private lichen herbarium to NYBG. Since his thesis was on the lichens of the higher elevations of the Appalachian Mountains, this was a wonderful addition to our holdings of lichens from the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. Although we are still processing this amazing gift, it appears to be about 30,000 specimens! Next, Brendan Hodkinson and James Lendemer applied to the National Science Foundation to inventory the lichens of the mid-Atlantic coastal plain (southern New Jersey to southern Georgia), as postdoctoral students of our lichenologist, Dr. Richard Harris. Much to our delight, this project was fully funded and will begin later this month. In addition to funding the two postdocs, the grant will also cover the expenses of a new graduate student. So, we will continue to have lichenology here at New York for some time to come. Brendan will move off of his administrative role in the one grant and onto the other."

So within the coming weeks, I will officially become the PI on this new grant, entitled "Lichen biodiversity of the threatened North American Middle Atlantic Coastal Plain: Improving classification, conservation, and communication."  I can't wait to get started!

- Brendan

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