Lichens are a symbiotic association between fungi and photosynthetic organisms such as green algae or cyanobacteria. Their abundance and diversity can be an indirect assessment of air quality and habitat alteration in an urban environment. In 2009, we received funding from the PA Department of Conservation and Natural Resources, Wild Resource Conservation Program to study the application of lichens as indicators for habitat alteration and air pollution in southwestern Pennsylvania. Our partners on the project included the Pittsburgh Parks Conservancy and the New York Botanical Gardens. Point Park University students actively participate in the project.

Starting in 2017, we will begin surveying public areas in and around Pittsburgh to develop a comprehensive lichen map of southwestern Pennsylvania. This work is the first step in an ambitious attempt to examine the application of lichens as indicators of air quality and habitat alteration ten years after our initial study. The systematic sampling of lichens from permanent sampling plots will be conducted in 2019.
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)

Ecological Society of America Conference Poster (2009)

In 2014, a McKinley Research Grant from Pymatuning Ecology Laboratory, University of Pittsburgh funded a study of lichens in Crawford County, PA. The study consisted of a biodiversity survey to establish a baseline of lichens in and around Pymatuning State Park.
Evansia Journal Publication (2016)

The most current research on lichens, besides the Pittsburgh study, is developing a civil war tour of lichens. This is a long-term project that involves surveying historical parks such as Harpers Ferry, Gettysburg and Antietam.

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