Patterns in Wisconsin Lichen Diversity

James P. Bennett

in The Vanishing Present: Wisconsin's Changing Lands, Waters, and Wildlife

Published by University of Chicago Press

Published in print September 2008 | ISBN: 9780226871714
Published online February 2013 | e-ISBN: 9780226871745 | DOI:
Patterns in Wisconsin Lichen Diversity

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One hundred and fifty years ago, anyone traveling cross-country in Wisconsin found lichens growing in abundance. Today, the only abundant lichens are weedy species on the trunks and branches of hardwoods and some rocks. A common theme in this book is the “missing baseline” problem—that without data on how abundant species were in the past and how they were distributed we cannot infer changes in their distribution and abundance. This chapter explores the “missing data” problem in detail, highlighting how little is actually known about the state's lichen flora. It suggests that scientists have only identified 85% of the species that occur in the state. In undercollected areas of the state, we may never know what once existed. Our ignorance also creates an ironic paradox: our lichen flora may continue to lose species even as our knowledge of the lichen flora and species lists grow.

Keywords: missing data; abundance; diversity; lichen flora

Chapter.  2018 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Biodiversity and Conservation Biology

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