Lichens are a symbiotic association between fungi and photosynthetic organisms such as green algae. Their abundance and diversity can be an indirect assessment of air quality. In 2009-10, we received funding from the PA Department of Conservation and Natural Resources, Wild Resource Conservation Program to study the application of lichens as indicators of air quality and habitat alteration in southwestern Pennsylvania. In partnership with the New York Botanical Gardens and Point Park University students, lichen surveys were conducted throughout Allegheny, Washington and Westmoreland Counties. The results of the study are available below in a series of presentations and publications.
Pennsylvania Academy of Science Publication (2011)

Cafe Scientifique-Pittsburgh Presentation Podcast (2011)

Pittsburgh Post-Gazette Article (2011)

PA Dept. of Conservation and Natural Resources Report (2010)

     Starting in 2017, we began surveying public and private properties throughout southwestern Pennsylvania as the first step in an ambitious attempt to reexamine the diversity and distribution of lichens in the area. Property surveys and systematic sampling of lichens from permanent sampling plots identified 10 years ago will be surveyed to determine whether the lichen community has changed and why.
     In addition to the broader lichen study, students have conducted diversity surveys beyond southwestern Pennsylvania. One such study was funded by a McKinley Research Grant from Pymatuning Ecology Laboratory, University of Pittsburgh to study lichens in Crawford County, PA. The results of the study is available below.
Evansia Publication (2016)
 

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