Lichen taxonomy is really exciting to some people. And I’ll be honest, I’m not one of them. I prefer the meta-stories — ones about how land and climate barriers have propelled speciation into many divergent paths, how species assemblages shift along different environmental gradients, and ways in which the lichen symbiosis can inform a more balanced way of living in the world.
That being said, I often feel like there’s not much room for me in the sciences, apart the field. The well worn paths of most lichenologists are paths that focus strongly on taxonomy, much less on narrative.
This taxonomic focus is mainly out of necessity: the frontiers of the unknown-unknowns in lichenology are so vast, and understanding and furthering taxonomy is like carrying a torch into that vast darkness.
After three years of field work in Argentina, Chile, the Mid-Atlantic Coastal Plain, and the Great Basin Desert of Nevada, we’re finally making the time to publish the Turnbull NWR lichen inventory.
The manuscript is going to be more bare boned than we’d imagined it at the beginning of the project, but Jason and I are planning on following-up with subsequent papers that address more of the ecologically significant aspects while widening our scope outside the refuge.