Lichens - stable, mutualistic associations of fungi and algae - are well-represented in tropical and subtropical areas. Like its native plant flora, Bermuda's lichen flora comprises both eastern North American and Caribbean biogeographic elements. Bermuda is isolated in the North Atlantic Ocean, roughly 1000 km away from the nearest landmass; as a result, many eastern North American species reach their eastern-most range limits in Bermuda, while many Caribbean species reach their northern-most range limits. Because it is home to so many Caribbean lichen species, Bermuda provides a useful “gateway” for lichenological exploration of the neighboring Greater and Lesser Antilles.
The primary objective of our work is to document and explore the diversity of Bermudian lichens, as well as the fungi which parasitize them (lichenicolous fungi). This will be the first complete inventory of Bermuda's lichens in almost 100 years, and includes an assessment of the conservation status of its endemic species. Multiple papers updating the Bermuda lichen checklist, and describing new species, are being prepared. Eventually, a complete flora based on the contents of this site will be published. Future work will evaluate the potential of Bermudian lichen species as biomonitors of atmospheric pollutants, both on Bermuda and on neighbouring Caribbean islands. We are also hoping to eventually put forward a proposal to study Bermuda's lichens using molecular tools; "barcoding" the lichen flora of Bermuda would aid in species identification, as well as serve as an anchoring point for more in-depth studies of Bermudian lichen biogeography.
As our investigation of the Bermudian lichen flora continues, taxonomic and nomenclatural questions arise which affect a wider audience. This site provides a forum for discussion of these questions.
You are invited to register and contribute to the taxonomy of Caribbean and neotropical lichens species. Discover the power of lichen "cybertaxonomy"!