What lichens and lichenologists can and sometimes cannot tell us

Lichens are especially abundant and diverse in moist forests along the Atlantic coast of Nova Scotia.  Photo is in the Terrence Bay Wilderness Area,

Lichens are especially abundant and diverse in moist forests along the Atlantic coast of Nova Scotia, here in the Terrence Bay Wilderness Area. Lichens can indicate levels of air pollution, and can be used to monitor the “ecological integrity” of a site.

Writing in the Halifax Examiner, Linda Pannozo highlights lichens and lichenologists (lichen specialists) in Nova Scotia, and reveals some of the struggles involved in protecting the endangered boreal felt lichen and other species from the ravages of clearcutting.

A NSE (Nova Scotia Dept of Environment) scientist apparently got in trouble when he made a presentation about lichens-at-risk to the 2014 MTRI forest science conference and one of slides read “The level of forest harvesting on the landscape is ecologically unsustainable”. Pannozo discovered through a FOIPOP that Alan Eddy, the Associate Deputy Minister of NSDNR (the Nova Scotia Dept of Natural Resources) and former senior forester with Nova Scotia Power was at the meeting and subsequently asked the scientist’s NSE boss “Can we have a discussion on how best to ensure staff approach such issues with a more corporate consideration of potential impacts.”

It’s a revealing story, and I can imagine that the scientist involved is walking on egg shells, no fault of his own for sure other than doing his job as a scientist – he regularly publishes his work on lichens in peer reviewed journals.

I attended the annual MTRI scientific meeting for the first time this year; the topic was “Old Forests Conservation Science”. It’s one of the few venues where you can meet and interact with a number of the NSDNR and NSE scientific staff, but as I noted in my post about the meeting, there is a kind of unstated understanding that discussion of the “politics of forestry” is taboo. There was some discussion here and there about impacts of clearcutting on conservation of Old Forests, but the government scientists did not join in. Nor did Mr. Eddy. That’s not good for the science that NSDNR Minister Lloyd Hines loves to say is the basis of all harvesting decisions made by NSDNR.

View Muzzling the Forest Keepers. A Guide to boreal felt lichen and DNR message control by Linda Pannozo.

Show us the Science
For lichens, there are many peer reviewed articles by Nova Scotian scientists from within (notably R.P. Cameron) and outside of government. In fact the case for expanding the protective zone around boreal felt lichen in Nova Scotia from 100 to 500 meters, which NSDNR apparently opposes, is much better supported by peer reviewed, published scientific research than the case for clearcutting a large proportion of Nova Scotia forests, which NSDNR advocates.


  • Cameron, R.P. 2002. Habitat associations of epiphytic lichens in managed and unmanaged forest stands in Nova Scotia. Northeastern Naturalist 9: 27-46.
  • Maass, W. &D. Yetman. 2002. COSEWIC status report on the Boreal Felt Lichen (Erioderma pedicellatum) Atlantic population boreal population in Canada. Committee on the Status of Endangered Wildlife in Canada. Ottawa.
  • Selva, S.B. 2003. Using calicioid lichens and fungi to assess ecological continuity in the Acadian Forest Ecoregion of the Canadian Maritimes. The Forestry Chronicle, 79(3), 550-558.
  • Cameron, R.P., Neily, T., & Richardson, D.H.S. 2004. Macrolichen indicators of air quality for Nova Scotia. Northeastern Naturalist, 14:1-14.
  • Richardson, D.H.S. & R.P. Cameron. 2004. Cyanolichens: their response to pollution and possible management strategies for their conservation in northeastern North America. Northeastern Naturalist, 11: 1-22.
  • Cameron, R.P & Richardson, D.H.S.2006. Occurrence and abundance of epiphytic cyanolichens in Protected Areas of Nova Scotia, Canada Opuscula Philolichenum, 3: 5-14.
  • Cameron, R.P. & Neily, T. 2008. Heuristic model for identifying the habitats of Erioderma pedicellatum and other rare cyanolichens in Nova Scotia, Canada. The Bryologist 111(4):650-658.
  • McMullin R.T., Duinker P.N., Cameron R.P., Richardson D.H.S. & Brodo I.M. 2008. Lichens of coniferous old-growth forests of south western Nova Scotia, Canada: diversity and present status. Bryologist 111: 620-637.
  • Cameron, R.P., Hanel, C., Goudie, I., and Neily, T. 2009. Erioderma pedicellatum, boreal felt lichen: current status, conservation issues and future prospects. Botanical Electronic News 420. Available from http://www.ou.edu/cas/botany-micro/ben/ben420.html
  • Cameron RP. 2009. Are non-native gastropods a threat to endangered lichens? Canadian Field-Naturalist 123: 169-171.
  • Cameron, R.P., Neily, T., and Anderson, F. 2010. Observations of mortality in a small population of the endangered lichen Erioderma pedicellatum. Opuscula Philolichenum 8: 67–70. Available from http://sweetgum.nybg.org/philolichenum/
  • COSEWIC. 2010. COSEWIC assessment and status report on the Blue Felt Lichen Degelia plumbea in Canada. Committee on the Status of Endangered Wildlife in Canada. Ottawa. x + 42 pp.(www.sararegistry.gc.ca/status/status_e.cfm). Contributors: David H.S. Richardson, Frances Anderson, Robert Cameron, and R. Troy McMullin
  • Neily, Tom and Frances Anderson. 2010. Leptogium hibernicum Mitch. ex P. M. Jorg. discovered in North America. The Lichenologist. 42: 629-630.
  • Anderson, F and Neily, T. 2010. A Reconnaissance Level Survey of Calciphilous Lichens in Selected Karst Topography in Nova Scotia with Notes on Incidental Bryophytes. Mersey Tobeatic Research Institute report to Nova Scotia Department of Natural Resources  
  • Selva, S. 2010. New and interesting calicioid lichens and fungi from eastern North America. The Bryologist 113(2):272-276.
  • Cameron, R.P., Neily, T., Claydon, S.R. 2011. Distribution prediction model for Erioderma mollissimum in Atlantic Canada. The Bryologist 114(1):231-238.
  • Clayden, S.R., Cameron, R.P., and McCarthy, J.W. 2011. Chapter 4: Perhumid coastal and montane forests of eastern Canada. In Temperate and boreal rain forests of the world. Edited by D. DellaSalla. Island Press, Washington, D.C.
  • Environment Canada 2011. Management Plan for the Frosted Glass-whiskers (Sclerophora peronella), Nova Scotia Population, in Canada. Species at Risk Act Management Plan Series. Environment Canada, Ottawa. iii + 11 pp. WWW.sararegistry.gc.ca and http://publications.gc.ca/collections/collection_2011/ec/En3-5-18-2011-eng.pdf).
  • Anderson, Frances and T.H. Neily. 2012. New and Noteworthy Macrolichen Records for Nova Scotia. Evansia. 29(1):1-3.
  • Selva, S. 2013. The calicioid lichens and fungi of the Acadian Forest Ecoregion of northeastern North America, I. New species and range extensions. The Bryologist 116(3), pp. 248–256
  • COSEWIC. 2013. COSEWIC assessment and status report on the Eastern Waterfan Peltigera hydrothyria in Canada. Committee on the Status of Endangered Wildlife in Canada. Ottawa. xi + 46 pp. (www.registrelep-sararegistry.gc.ca/default_e.cfm). Contributors: David H.S. Richardson, Frances Anderson, Robert Cameron, René Belland
  • Cameron RP, Neily T, Clapp H. 2013. Forest harvesting impacts on mortality of an endangered lichen at the landscape and stand scales. Canadian Joural of Forest Research 43: 507-511 Abstract
  • Cameron R, Goudie I, Richardson D. 2013b. Habitat loss exceeds habitat regeneration for an IUCN flagship lichen epiphyte: Erioderma pedicellatum. Canadian Joural of Forest Research 43: 1075-1080 Abstract
  • Environment Canada. 2014. Recovery Strategy for the Vole Ears Lichen (Erioderma mollissimum) in Canada [Proposed]. Species at Risk Act Recovery Strategy Series. Environment Canada, Ottawa. v + 27 pp. Contibutors: Julie McKnight, Rob Cameron, Mark Elderkin, Maureen Toner
  • COSEWIC. 2014. COSEWIC status appraisal summary on the Frosted Glass-whiskers Sclerophora peronella in Canada. Committee on the Status of Endangered Wildlife in Canada. Ottawa. xx pp.(www.registrelep-sararegistry.gc.ca/default_e.cfm). Contributor: David Richardson
  • COSEWIC. 2015. COSEWIC assessment and status report on the Black-foam Lichen Anzia colpodes in Canada. Committee on the Status of Endangered Wildlife in Canada. Ottawa. x + 47 pp. (www.registrelep-sararegistry.gc.ca/default_e.cfm). Contributors: David Richardson, Frances Anderson, Robert Cameron, Stephen Clayden, Troy McMullen. Rene Balland
  • Cameron, R.P. & Toms, B. 2016. Population decline of endangered lichen Erioderma pedicellatum in Nova Scotia, Canada. Botany 2016, 94: 565-571. Abstract

lichens NY Botanical GardenCurious about lichens? See McMullin, T. and Anderson, F. 2014. Common Lichens of Northeastern North America. A Field Guide. New York Botanical Garden.
View An Interview with Dr. Troy McMullin, Author of Common Lichens of Northeastern North America.

Join Nova Scotians’ love affair with lichens and the forests in which they thrive.

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