Drivers of lichen diversity at different latitudes

Regions: Dehcho Region

Tags: biology, lichen

Principal Investigator: Scharnagl, Klara (1)
Licence Number: 16145
Organization: Michigan State University
Licenced Year(s): 2017
Issued: Jul 20, 2017
Project Team: Klara Scharnagl (Principal Investigator, Michigan State University), Anna Scharnagl (Field Assistant, University of Missouri, Columbia), Jennifer Baltzer (Station director, local collaborator, Wilfrid Laurier University)

Objective(s): To survey lichen diversity, and to understand the latitudinal diversity gradient of lichens at Scotty Creek.

Project Description: The objectives at Scotty Creek in the Northwest Territories of Canada is to get a high latitudinal point for the field sampling study. Many latitudinal gradient studies overlook the boreal and tundra ecosystems, yet they are host to a rich lichen flora. The Principal Investigator (PI) will survey lichen diversity at Scotty Creek, contributing to local knowledge in addition to the understanding of the latitudinal diversity gradient of lichens.

In the long term forest plots around Scotty Creek, the PI will survey lichen diversity on 100 individual tagged trees. A randomized approach will be used to select the trees, and place a grid on the trees. The PI will take pictures of the lichens inside the grid to later calculate percent cover. Measurements will be taken of ambient light, tree diameter at breast height, and bark texture of each tree. The PI will then collect small fragments of each lichen in the grid for further identification in the lab. A sub-set of lichen samples will be used for molecular analyses looking at the identities of both the fungal and algal partners in the lichen. The PI is investigating whether there is a generalist to specialist pattern within the lichen symbiosis along a latitudinal gradient.

The research team are collaborating with Dr. Jennifer Baltzer from Wilfrid Laurier University in Waterloo, for access to Scotty Creek forest site, and in discussing mapping of lichen diversity throughout the Northwest Territories. The research team plan to make a field guide for the lichen species that are identify from the area, which will be made available at the station, at Yellowknife, and at the University. The team furthermore plan to design a small coloring book for children about lichens.

Results from this work will be published in scientific journals and presented at national and international conferences, overall data will be made available online, and sequence data will be made available on GenBank. More locally, the PI will contribute to a local field guide for lichens in the Northwest Territories, and if there is an opportunity, will present the work to the public in Yellowknife. The PI is currently working on a program at Michigan State University involving Data Nuggets; the plan is to make a Data Nugget about this work that can be used in schools and communities throughout the Northwest Territories.

The fieldwork for this study will be conducted from August 1, 2017 to August 30, 2017.