Biodiversity and Conservation

, Volume 28, Issue 12, pp 3103–3138 | Cite as

Lichen conservation in North America: a review of current practices and research in Canada and the United States

  • Jessica L. AllenEmail author
  • R. Troy McMullin
  • Erin A. Tripp
  • James C. Lendemer
Review Paper
Part of the following topical collections:
  1. Biodiversity protection and reserves


Lichens are diverse symbiotic organisms that contribute essential functions to ecosystems worldwide. Generally, lichens are under-represented in conservation assessments and implementation when compared to other groups of organisms (e.g., plants and vertebrates). However, some progress has been made towards better conservation of lichens in recent decades. Here we review the current state of lichen conservation in Canada and the United States, a region that includes nearly 6000 species of lichens. Through detailed case studies, we document threats and declines of diversity and abundance, then review the legal frameworks that exist to protect lichens at different spatial scales in both countries. We highlight progress in effectively using ‘Big Data’ to inform conservation, monitoring rare and endangered species, expanding the professional capacity of lichenologists, and building interdisciplinary networks between scientists and the broader community of conservation and resource managers. Moving forward, there are clear actions that must be taken to accelerate lichen conservation.


Climate change Fungi Habitat loss Land use Mycology Symbiosis 



We thank the Botanical Society of America and American Bryological and Lichenological Society for hosting the symposium that began our work on this manuscript. The first author was supported by the National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellowship during much of the manuscript preparation. EAT and JCL were supported by a National Science Foundation Dimensions of Biodiversity Award to University of Colorado (Award #1542629) and New York Botanical Garden (Award #1432629).

Supplementary material

10531_2019_1827_MOESM1_ESM.xlsx (15 kb)
Supplementary material 1 (XLSX 14 kb)


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© Springer Nature B.V. 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Institute of Systematic BotanyThe New York Botanical GardenBronxUSA
  2. 2.Department of BiologyEastern Washington UniversityCheneyUSA
  3. 3.Canadian Museum of Nature – Research and CollectionsOttawaCanada
  4. 4.Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology, and Museum of Natural History, UCB 350University of ColoradoBoulderUSA

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