"A new lichen validates the value of the public support for preserving public lands as ecological sanctuaries," he said. "C. obamae teaches us that possibly other species of lichens and plants unique to Santa Rosa Island may have disappeared, without ever being known to science, since sheep ranching began there in the 1850s."
Knudsen, 58, has been working in the UCR Herbarium, a field research resource of the Department of Botany and Plant Sciences, since 2004. A retired construction worker, he volunteers his time in the herbarium, where he has built a collection of more than 10,000 lichens. Colleagues have named three new species of lichens after him.
He noted that he became interested in lichens when he grew bored after he retired from construction work in 2000.
"There are few lichen taxonomists in the United States and a few books on the lichen flora of North America, and none of these books are comprehensive," he said. "By studying lichens, I thought I could make a contribution to inventorying the fungal diversity of California, one of the world's biological hot-spots."
Knudsen, who has no academic degrees, has published more than 70 peer-reviewed research papers on lichens. He has described more than 25 species of lichens and lichenicolous (growing on lichens) fungi from California, South America and Turkey.
Next in his research he plans to map and monitor the populations on Santa Rosa Island and study their recovery after the final removal of deer and elk.
|Contact: Iqbal Pittalwala|
University of California - Riverside