In the 1950s, lichenologist Henry .A. Imshaug (1925-2010) inventoried lichens at 91 alpine peaks across Western North America. But no one has gone back up to see if those alpine lichens have responded to climate change.
Have alpine species disappeared from some areas – have others shifted ranges into new locations? Can we untangle the impacts of air pollution from climate change? Can lichens be used as effective bioindicators of climate change in alpine regions?
Answering these questions is our goal. My partner Jason Hollinger and I have re-inventoried 12 of Imshaug’s original alpine sites in the Sierra Nevada Mountains of California and western Nevada, along with two in the Washington Cascades, and one in the Intermountain Region. The project has proven to be bigger than we initially anticipated, so we are taking a more modular approach by focusing our efforts first on the California alpine. Preliminary results for California are currently in press, look for the upcoming Spring/Summer 2019 California Lichen Society Bulletin.
This project is proudly supported by the California Lichen Society. Check out CALS here!