Skills and Knowledge for Lichenologists

Cumbria Lichen and Bryophyte Group field trip to Carrock Fell © Chris Cant

Cumbria Lichen and Bryophyte Group field trip to Carrock Fell © Chris Cant

To be a proficient lichenologist you have to develop a wide range of skills which may take a number of years to acquire. This may take the form of formal courses, workshops, field meetings and mentoring. To help you make the most of the support on offer and to identify areas where additional knowledge will be helpful the Education and Publications Committee has produced a list of skills and knowledge for lichenologists.

In addition, this list may be used by tutors when designing courses aimed at students at Beginner, Intermediate and Advanced stages, although the BLS does not recognise this as a formal accreditation scheme.

The list is of skills and knowledge is given below and a pdf proforma for use by course tutors is available on the BLS website.

Beginner stage students should:

  • Understand the concept of lichen symbiosis and how lichens are named
  • Understand basic lichen morphology e.g. crustose, foliose and fruticose
  • Be familiar with terminology associated with asexual reproduction
  • Be familiar with terminology associated with sexual reproduction
  • Use FSC identification guides
  • Use “Dobson” for species identification purposes
  • Use a hand lens
  • Use the C and K chemical tests
  • Use appropriate collecting and storage techniques and protocols
  • Be aware of the BLS website and local groups/meetings

Intermediate stage students should:

  • Understand the meaning of the terms associated with lichen structure and be able to recognise
  • these structures
  • Understand the meaning of the terms associated with asexual reproduction and be able to
  • recognise these structures
  • Understand the meaning of the terms associated with sexual reproduction and be able to recognise
  • these structures
  • Use “The Flora” (The Lichens of Great Britain and Ireland)
  • Use the BLS and other websites to aid lichen ID
  • Use the Pd chemical test
  • Use a UV lamp
  • Recognise acidic and basic rocks
  • Recognise acidic and basic barked trees
  • Use a dissecting microscope
  • Use a compound microscope
  • Prepare a slide for microscopy e.g. squashes and sections
  • Calibrate a microscope and measure dimensions
  • Be familiar with recording procedures using the BLS database and spreadsheets
  • Understand the concept of environmental drivers of lichen distribution
  • Assist in the surveying of specific lichen habitats e.g. using Scheidegger quadrats

Advanced stage students should be able to:

  • Develop and demonstrate confidence in the identification of specific genera
  • Be confident in setting up a compound microscope
  • Use oil immersion
  • Prepare slides of key lichen structures to aid identification, including the use of stains e.g. for asci
  • and spores
  • Identify lichen communities
  • Recognise habitats and key indicator species
  • Be able to access and use “grey literature”
  • Make up chemicals for ID purposes
  • Carry out advanced survey techniques using quadrats and relevés
  • Be familiar with the conservation status of lichens
  • Plan and effectively carry out a lichen survey
  • Write up the findings of a lichen survey in report format
  • Undertake both generic and dynamic risk assessments

Sue Knight

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