Lichens have been studied in Iowa since the pioneering work of Charles Bessey and Bruce Fink in the 1880s and 1890s, but there’s still a great deal to learn about the diversity and distribution of lichens in the state. Improved knowledge will be required to determine whether any of Iowa’s lichen species are extirpated or should be considered for listing as threatened or endangered species. The distribution patterns of lichen species throughout the state are poorly understood. The lichen collection at the Ada Hayden Herbarium (ISC) consists of approximately 5,000 accessions, about one-half of which were collected in the state of Iowa. The goal of the Iowa Lichen Project is two-fold:
1. Provide an on-line database (database 1) of all the lichen accessions present in the Ada Hayden Herbarium so that members of the lichen community can be made aware of specimens that may be of interest.
2. Provide an on-line database (database 2) of all accessions of lichens collected in Iowa, regardless of the herbaria in which they are deposited. This database is an essential tool for improving our understanding of the current, and historical, diversity and distribution of lichens in the state.
Please note that both databases are a work-in-progress, so check back for updates. We would also appreciate knowing about Iowa lichen specimens that aren’t included here – contact Jim Colbert if you are aware of such collections.