|BOTANICAL ELECTRONIC NEWS|
|No. 420 January 8, firstname.lastname@example.org||Victoria, B.C.|
Since April 26, 2005, BEN has been available by news feeds using RSS ('Really Simple Syndication'). The news article at URL: http://www.ou.edu/cas/botany-micro/ben/ben348.html#5 was certainly ahead of its time, but RSS is now an important means for promoting social networking and distributing information to web site. This is a technology that is open to everyone. The means by which one subscribes to an RSS 'feed' is to click on a typically orange box that says 'XML' or 'RSS'. For BEN, this is located on the BEN home page, below the current Table of Contents. If you access this within a news reader, you have the option to "subscribe," which means that whenever you access the page, its content will be refreshed. Clicking the RSS button launches a news reader on many of the current web browsers, and Google will place it on your iGoogle home page if you ask it to.
Daniel Mosquin continues to host the BEN news at his website at http://www.ubcbotanicalgarden.org/resources/botanicalelectronicnews.php. This continues to be a good way to keep up with BEN (but so also is looking at the home page). If you have just found out about BEN, you might send an email to me (or the editor) to tell us how you found BEN and how we might help improve distribution. With the myriad problems of formatting and being mistaken for spam, email listservs may become a medium of the past rather than the future. In the near future though, I anticipate that email will still be a delivery mechanism of choice to many readers.
My friend Trevor Goward, a leading Canadian lichenologist, was recently honoured by his Finnish colleagues. The name of a new genus, Gowardia, "is dedicated to Trevor Goward, B.C., Canada, for his remarkable and ongoing work on North American lichens...." (Halonen et al. 2009)
"Gowardia," writes the lichenologist Pekka Halonen, "is easily distinguished from Alectoria on the basis of cortical pigments. Alectoria contains usnic acid and has a yellowish or greenish-yellow hue, while this substance is lacking in Gowardia, which instead has melanic pigments yielding a grayish to blackish color. Gowardia is a circumpolar genus essentially restricted to Arctic-alpine localities. By contrast, Alectoria is much more widely distributed, with a center of diversity in temperate regions of western North America. Alectoria ochroleuca (Hoffm.) A. Massal. and A. sarmentosa subsp. vexillifera (Nyl.) D. Hawksw. occur in Arctic and alpine regions, where they could be found in many areas growing together with Gowardia species."
At present, Gowardia contains two species: G. arctica P. Halonen, L. Myllys, S. Velmala & H. Hyvärinen, sp. nov., the type of the genus, and G. nigricans (Ach.) P. Halonen, L. Myllys, S. Velmala & H. Hyvärinen, comb. nov. (syn. Alectoria nigricans [Ach.] Nyl.). In addition to several morphological and chemical characteristics, the decision to recognize Gowardia as distinct from Alectoria is supported by phylogenetic analysis based on combined ITS and GAPDH data. Gowardia arctica is known from Arctic regions of Canada and Russia, while G. nigricans has a wider range.
In the same article, Alectoria vancouverensis (Gyeln.) Brodo & D. Hawksw. is documented from Finland, which is the first report of this species outside the Pacific coast of North America.
The first Alberta population of Loesel's twayblade (Liparis loeselii) was located north of Fort McMurray on June 17, 2006. Twenty plants were counted (seven in bloom) in a graminoid fen with water at or near the surface and dominated by sedges (Carex spp.) and grasses. Other species reported from the general area include buck-bean (Menyanthes trifoliata L.), dwarf birch (Betula pumila L.), tamarack (Larix laricina [Du Roi] K. Koch), pitcher-plant (Sarracenia purpurea L.) common cattail (Typha latifolia L.), northern grass-of-parnassus (Parnassia palustris L.) and mosses (Hall and Elser 2006). Photographs were reviewed and it was confirmed to be a new orchid for Alberta.
Then on July 3, 2008, a second location for Loesel's twayblade was discovered during a trip led by Derek Johnson and organized by a contingent of naturalists from the Red Deer River Naturalists Society. The site of this second find is the proposed Clyde Fen Natural Area, one of the Alberta Native Plant Council's stewardship sites.
Cheryl Thorpe spotted the first one, and Derek immediately identified it. The group then scouted around and eventually about 15 plants in flower were counted. They appeared to be growing in a particularly wet east-west oriented swale or channel with more graminoid vegetation than the surrounding shrubby, wet calcareous fen. For one plant, Patsy Cotterill reports that she recorded the following associated plants: golden moss (Tomenthypnum nitens [Hedw.] Loeske), dwarf birch, tufted bulrush (Trichophorum cespitosum [L.] Hartm.), mud sedge (Carex limosa L.) and swamp horsetail (Equisetum fluviatile L. emend. Ehrh. ). Pitcher-plants were in the vicinity, and not far away.
Sometimes this plant is also called fen orchid, yellow twayblade, or yellow widelip orchid. Loesel's twayblade seems to be a relatively common species in eastern North America, but it is rare in the west, including Saskatchewan, Alberta, British Columbia, and south into Montana and Washington (NatureServe 2008). It also occurs in Europe, the British Isles, Scandinavia and Russia (McMaster 2001).
The species prefers calcareous sedge fens and does not tolerate much in the way of tree cover. It is an inconspicuous orchid that can be hard to spot in amongst the graminoids. It is a perennial herb, growing from bulb-like bases (corms), with stems 7-20 cm tall. It has two glossy basal leaves, 5-15 cm long, that are elliptic and somewhat succulent. The leaves are keeled on the back and narrow to winged stalks. The small, yellowish green flowers are few on the stem (2 to 15) and arranged along the stem in a raceme. The flower stalk is relatively long and upward-pointing so the blooms stand well away from the stem. The lip is unlobed, not inflated, and quite small (4-5.5 mm long). The petals are 4-5 mm long, narrower and shorter than the sepals (4.5-6 mm long).
There are other orchids in Alberta called twayblades, but they belong to the genus Listera. The Listera orchids also have two leaves, but their leaves are set part-way up the stem, not like the basal leaves of Liparis. Superficially, Loesel's twayblade probably looks most like one of the bog orchids (genus Platanthera) or perhaps a bog adder's-mouth (Malaxis paludosa [L.] Sw.). Although the flowers of Loesel's twayblade are small, those of the bog adder's-mouth are smaller (lip only up to 2.5 mm long). Of the Platanthera, only the blunt-leaved bog orchid (P. obtusata [Banks ex Pursh] Lindl.) has similar leaves (although it usually has only 1 rather than 2). The petals are also more oblong that those of Loesel's twayblade.
Details on two addtional sites for Loesel's twayblade have now been submitted to ANHIC since this article was originally printed in IRIS. The first population, found in August 2008, was in a wooded fen in the McLelland Lake area, approx 75 km N of Ft. McMurray. And the second was found June 2009 in the Lodge Lake fen complex, approx 150 km northeast of Edmonton, near Lac La Biche.With only four known populations in the province, Loesel's twayblade is considered rare, and ranked S1.
Thanks to Patsy Cotterill, Eileen Ford , Derek Johnson and Todd Kemper for their help in pulling together this write-up.
Erioderma pedicellatum (Hue) P.M. Jørg., boreal felt lichen, is an epiphytic foliose lichen found in the temperate and boreal northern hemisphere. It is a leafy lichen, light grey when dry to greyish green when wet. The lichen has a covering of fine white hairs on the upper surface and a mat of dense white hairs on the under surface. Mature thalli will have small round reddish fruiting bodies on the upper surface. This lichen is part of a group of lichens known as cyanolichens because the photosynthesizing partner is a cyanobacterium. In the case of boreal felt lichen the cyanobacterium is in the genus Scytonema.
Boreal felt lichen is a globally endangered species known from only a few places in the world. Populations are threatened by air pollution and commercial forestry and continue to decline. Recent finds in Alaska may be promising for the future of the species. Boreal felt lichen is one of the most sensitive species to human disturbances and thus acts as an early warning of ecosystem impacts.
The world population of boreal felt lichen has been listed as critically endangered by the International Union for the Conservation of Nature. The Atlantic population, which includes Nova Scotia and New Brunswick, has been listed as endangered under the Canadian federal Species at Risk Act. The boreal population on the Island of Newfoundland has been listed as a Species of Special Concern.
Erioderma pedicellatum in Scandinavia is currently only known from two locations in Norway (Holien 2006). The one thallus in Sweden, although protected, disappeared after an adjacent forestry operation apparently changed the local microclimate (Purvis 2000).
Newfoundland hosts the largest population of boreal felt lichen in the world with numbers probably in the tens of thousands (Hanel pers. com.). Unfortunately, recent population modeling by Goudie et al. (2010) indicates the population is declining. The exact causes are unknown, but the authors suspect that acid rain may be a contributing factor. They also suggest that introduced moose, with an expanding high density population (1 to 2 moose/km2), have browsed young balsam fir, the main substrate of boreal felt lichen, to the extent that (regeneration of) habitat is limited. Further, old-growth balsam fir, the ideal habitat for boreal felt lichen, is the target of commercial forestry operations.
These operations are occurring in areas of high boreal felt lichen population. Silviculture objectives are to plant herbivore-resistant species likely to be less suitable to boreal felt lichen. The adequacy of 20 m buffers left around individuals is now in question and the Province plans to take a landscape management approach in the future (Keeping and Hanel 2006). Transplant experiments in the Vale Inco Long Harbour, Placentia Bay project area suggest that boreal felt lichen populations maybe limited by dispersal which underscores the importance of protecting stands where the species currently occurs (Goudie pers. comm.).
The known population in Nova Scotia is 180 individuals and although new sites are being found by researchers, old sites are disappearing. One third of thalli monitored since 2005 are dead or dying. At least two locations have been lost due to adjacent forestry operations, although there may be others. Other thalli have been lost due to grazing, possibly by introduced gastropods (Cameron et al. 2009). Like other cyanolichens, boreal felt lichen is extremely sensitive to air pollution. Although sulphur emissions in North America are predicted to decline in the next 12 years, large areas of Nova Scotia will continue to receive levels of acid deposition in excess of critical loads (Environment Canada 2004).
Erioderma pedicellatum is believed to be extirpated from New Brunswick. Despite recent searches by local lichenologists, it hasn't been found in the province since the early 20th century. Acid rain and fog and air pollution have likely degraded the habitat to the point where it can not survive there (New Brunswick Department of Natural Resources 2007).
In August, 2007, several thalli of boreal felt lichen where collected in Denali National Park and Preserve and later in Denali State Park in Alaska (Nelson et al. 2009). This was the first collection in western North America and marks a significant range extension. The significance of this find is yet to be understood. The possibility of a larger population in western North America increases the hope for the survival of this species.
Boreal felt lichen is sensitive to anthropogenic impacts. The species provides an early warning of human perturbations on the environment. The fate of the global population of boreal felt lichen is uncertain. With only two locations in Europe, survival there is uncertain. Air pollution and commercial forestry continue to be threats in eastern Canada. Only increased effort to reduce threats can ensure the survival of this species.
When Bruce McCune and Linda Geiser's book, Macrolichens of the Pacific Northwest was first published in 1997, it was warmly received and proved to be invaluable to western botanists and ecologists dealing with lichens. Designed especially as a field guide for forest ecologists and managers (and co-published by the U.S.D.A. Forest service), it featured first rate colour photographs by Sylvia and Steve Sharnoff and authoritative descriptions and keys to all the species of macrolichens then known for Oregon and Washington, as well as numerous species from surrounding regions. Not surprisingly, it fostered a widespread interest in lichens as an integral part of the Pacific Northwest flora.
A lot has happened in lichenology since 1997, and this has necessitated a new look at the lichens of the Pacific Northwest (PNW). Fortunately, Oregon State University Press invited the authors to prepare a second edition of their popular book. In the new edition, the authors have not only taken advantage of new scholarship in lichenology over the past decade with name changes and revised descriptions, they have taken the opportunity to illustrate many more species and add new photographs to previously illustrated species. Many photographs in this edition are from sources other than the Sharnoffs, most taken by Bruce McCune himself. The number of illustrations was increased from 236 to 417. Most of these new pictures illustrate details of previously treated species, and these close-up photographs, complete with scale bars, are what make this edition so special. Three sets of pictures stand out: a series showing the lower surface of 18 species of Peltigera, a plate illustrating all types of apothecia in the genus Umbilicaria, and, most spectacular, a series of excellent colour photographs of longitudinal sections of Usnea species, 21 in all. To me, they alone are worth the price of the new book. Alas, the McCune pictures aren't as good as the Sharnoff pictures, but this won't surprise anyone, including the photographer. There is a strange yellow-brown tint in virtually all the pictures that is particularly disturbing, but the essentials of the lichen details are intact and helpful. Ironically, the inaccurate brownish tones in many of the Sharnoff pictures of the first edition (e.g., Leptochidium albociliatum, Leptogium polycarpum, Umbilicaria deusta) have been corrected in this edition to show the true colour of the original photographs.
In the new edition, we find that Cetraria is still used in a very broad sense (following genetic results of Thell et al. 2002), but other segregate genera are recognized in the new edition that were previously rejected, e.g., Fuscopannaria and Allocetraria. Newly segregated genera are also included, e.g., Xanthomendoza, Melanelixia and Melanohalea, and Neofuscelia is included within Xanthoparmelia, following recent genetic findings. In all, the new edition introduces 117 new species treatments and 51 name changes.
Other changes in the new edition are worth noting. The authors have moved the section on Collecting and Identifying Lichens to the Introduction, as well as a greatly expanded, somewhat technical section on Lichens and Air Quality. The latter summarizes a lot of material, especially pertinent for the PNW, in 27 informative pages using graphs, tables and maps and many literature citations. Included is a lengthy table showing the sensitivity of hundreds of species to sulphur dioxide and nitrogen pollution.
The Nomenclatural summary table at the end of the book in this edition is no longer "cluttered" with a column for acronyms, used for data collection and based on the USDA Natural Resources Data Center. This perhaps reflects the book's appeal to a broader audience than just forest workers. The English names, still used only at the genus level, have been downgraded even further by eliminating the bold-face type used in the first edition.
The basic question for any field guide is, "Will it work?" Absolutely. The authors have built on their previous success with new and improved coverage, more helpful details and notes, and greatly expanded Sources citing new lichenological literature. The treatments of some genera such as Fuscopannaria and Usnea will become the new standards for our knowledge of PNW species. Although I could quibble with a few of the couplets and the odd descriptive detail, the overall value of the book for amateur naturalists through experienced lichenologists is unquestioned. I recommend it highly.
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