National Park Service

Southwest Alaska Network (SWAN)

Lichen Inventory

photo of the globally endangered lichen, Erioderman pedicellatum
New populations of the globally endangered lichen Erioderma pedicellatum were found in both Katmai NPP and Lake Clark NPP. Photo: NPS/J. Walton
Photo showing three people examining driftwood of lichens
Documenting coastal driftwood lichens at Chinitna Bay, Lake Clark National Park and Preserve. Photo: NPS/J. Walton

Lichen Inventory Resource Brief, 2016

Lichens in Kenai Fjords Resource Brief, 2016

Lichens are an important component of biological diversity and are sensitive indicators of air quality and climate. Despite their ecological importance in southwest Alaska, there is a general lack of information regarding lichen occurrence. To address this information need, SWAN partnered with Oregon State University (OSU) to conduct a lichen inventory of its three largest units: Katmai National Park and Preserve, Lake Clark National Park and Preserve, and Kenai Fjords National Park.

Under the guidance of OSU and the NPS, a team of lichenologists from North America and Europe conducted fieldwork during the 2013–2016 summer seasons. They surveyed sites throughout each park that were selected by NPS botanists to span a range of rich lichen habitats, including coastal rock outcrops and forests; large interior lake, river and forest systems; and interior and coastal alpine zones.

To date, at least 14 species have been discovered that are new to science, 7 species are new to North America, and 14 species are new to the state of Alaska. Additionally, new populations of the globally-endangered lichen, Erioderma pedicillatum (Hue) P.M.Jørg., were discovered in both Katmai and Lake Clark. Twelve peer-reviewed journal articles and one master's thesis have been published using inventory findings (see below). Other products include two manuscripts (in progress) that discuss the biodiversity and ecology of SWAN's lichen communities through an annotated voucher-based lichen species list and accompanying database for each of the three parks. Specimens collected during the course of the inventory will be provided on loan to the Museum of the North Herbarium (ALA), University of Alaska and several other institutions, where they will be available for research and educational purposes.

Below are images from SWAN's lichen inventory.

Related Publications
Related Presentations
  • Di Meglio, E. 2016. Stereocaulon of three Alaskan national parks — Katmai, Lake Clark and Kenai Fjords. Oral Presentation, 87th Annual Meeting of the Northwest Scientific Association, Central Oregon Community College, Bend, OR.
  • McCune, B. 2016. Nitrophilous lichens vary in frequency along a precipitation gradient in Alaska, Oral Presentation, 87th Annual Meeting of the Northwest Scientific Association, Central Oregon Community College, Bend, OR.
  • Walton, J. 2016. Early discoveries from the Southwest Alaska I&M Network lichen inventory. Poster Presentation, NPS Alaska Region Centennial Science and Stewardship Symposium, University of Alaska Fairbanks, Fairbanks, AK

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