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Technical report explores role of lichens as bioindicators

Lichens are veritable canaries in the coal mine, well-recognized for their ability to signal environmental conditions through their presence and abundance in forest landscapes. So useful are some species of lichens as bioindicators that the USDA Forest Services Forest Inventory and Analysis (FIA) program regularly monitors populations of the symbiotic organisms as part of its periodic nationwide resource assessments.

A new report published by the Pacific Northwest Research Station outlines baseline findings from the first full cycle of lichen data collection conducted by the FIA program in Washington, Oregon, and California. Titled Lichen Bioindication of Biodiversity, Air Quality, and Climate, the report discusses findings from the cycles 972 individual lichen surveys, which compose what is formally known as the FIA Lichen Indicator and which explore trends in forest health using lichens as bioindicators.

The FIA Lichen Indicator provides an invaluable landscape-scale view of how air quality and climate shape forest ecosystems, said Sarah Jovan, a research lichenologist and author of the report. My main goal, however, was to write a report with wide appeal, one that anyone curious about lichens would find engaging.


Contact: Yasmeen Sands
USDA Forest Service, Pacific Northwest Research Station

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