A Study of the Macrolichens of Northeast Ohio
From early 2016 to early 2017 the macrolichen flora in Northeastern Ohio was studied intensively. The goals of the study were to locate as many species as possible and improve representation of the current lichen flora in local herbaria.
Materials and Methods
In this study, Northeast Ohio was defined as the following counties: Ashtabula, Columbiana, Cuyahoga, Lake, Lorain, Mahoning, Medina, Portage, Stark, Summit, Trumbull, and Wayne. Most of the study area is within the Erie Drift Plain ecological region but parts of the Eastern Great Lakes and Hudson Lowlands and Western Allegheny Plateau ecological regions are also within these Northeast Ohio counties, providing a wide range of habitats.
During this study, a variety of parks, preserves, natural areas, and cemeteries were inventoried for macrolichens. Some of these properties include the Cuyahoga Valley National Park, Camp Ravenna, West Branch State Park, Beaver Creek State Park, and many of the Medina parks, Summit Metro parks, Lake Metro parks, Cleveland Metro parks, Portage parks, and State Nature Preserves. Collecting permits were acquired when necessary.
Lichens were identified primarily by using keys in the book The Macrolichens of Ohio (Showman & Flenniken 2004) but other books were used as well such as The Macrolichens in West Virginia (Flenniken 1999); The Macrolichens of New England (Hinds & Hinds 2007); The Lichens and Allied Fungi of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park (Lendemer, Harris, & Tripp 2013); and Keys to Lichens of North America (Brodo 2016). In addition, the following websites were helpful: North American Lichen Checklist, Ohio Moss and Lichen Association, and Lichen Portal.
Difficult specimens were sent to the New York Botanical Garden to be verified by Dr. James C. Lendemer. A personal voucher collection is maintained by the author and many other specimens have been donated to the Kent State University herbarium, the North Dakota State University Herbarium, and the New York Botanical Garden. Scientific names are based on Esslinger’s 2016 North American Lichen Checklist cited at the bottom.
The following table lists the 137 species of macrolichens that were found during this study. Of these, 40 species were new to Northeast Ohio and 7 were new to the state.
Macrolichen species found in Ashtabula, Columbiana, Cuyahoga, Lake, Lorain, Mahoning, Medina, Portage, Stark, Summit, Trumbull, and Wayne counties in 2016-2017. SP = found by Shaun Pogacnik, P = previously reported, N = new county record, NS = new state record (also underlined on list).Curtis vol 14 table
Canoparmelia caroliniana: Primarily a southern species, C. caroliniana is rare throughout Ohio and considered a state endangered species. The NE Ohio record is the most northerly record of this species in North America.
Enchylium bachmanianum: E. bachmanianum’s range extends through most of the United States where it is uncommon. In Ohio, it is considered endangered. This may be due to the scarcity of its habitat.
Hypotrachyna afrorevoluta: This lichen is found primarily in the Appalachians as well as in small portions of the East and West coast where it is uncommon. It was discovered in Ohio for the first time in Portage County.
Leptogium austroamericanum: Primarily a southern species, L. austroamericanum is rare in Ohio and was recorded for the first time in Northeast Ohio during this study. For this reason, it is considered noteworthy here.
Menegazzia subsimilis: Both stunning and uncommon, M. subsimilis is known to exist throughout most of the eastern United States and along the Pacific coast. With only one old record in Ohio (from 1877), it was presumed to be extirpated from the state until its rediscovery in Portage county during this study.
Parmotrema ultralucens: Primarily found south of the Appalachians, P. ultralucens is quite rare in Ohio and was recorded for the second time in the state in Stark County during this study.
Peltigera rufescens: Though generally common from the arctic to the equator, P. rufescens seems to become less abundant between the Great Lakes and the Appalachians. It was found for the first time in Ohio in Summit County during this study.
Physcia dubia: Common in the north, P. dubia has likely been under-recorded in Ohio due to previous lack of inventorying in northern counties. It was found in Ohio for the first time in Portage County during this study.
Ramalina intermedia: Primarily found in the Appalachians and around the Great Lakes, records of R. intermedia are scattered throughout the continental United States. It is uncommon throughout its range and is an endangered species in Ohio.
Tuckermannopsis sepincola: Primarily a northern species, T. sepincola was found for the first time in Ohio in Portage County during this study. It can resemble T. fendleri but differs in the position of the apothecia and the color of the thallus when it is wet.
Usnea dasaea: Rare throughout its range, U. dasaea was found for the first time in Ohio in Portage County during this study. Its other eastern records consist of a handful from Arkansas, Illinois, and the Appalachians.
Usnea hirta: Common in the north, U. hirta has likely been under-recorded in Ohio due to previous lack of inventorying in northern counties. It was found for the first time in Ohio in Summit County during this study, and since its original discovery, it has been found at numerous other locations throughout Northeast Ohio.
Xanthoria parietina: This species can be found in abundance along the coast of New England as well as the Pacific Coast, but many disjunct specimens and populations have been found across the continent. This is the first record of X. parietina for Ohio.
Lichens have not been systematically collected in Northeast Ohio since Taylor’s work more than 50 years ago. In that time, many species that were once recorded within the inventoried counties have disappeared, but even more species seem to be recolonizing or moving into the areas where they once didn’t exist. Though impacted by industrialization, Northeast Ohio seems to be experiencing a rebound in macrolichen biodiversity. This study has provided meaningful data that represents the current lichen flora in Northeast Ohio well.
An extensive survey of macrolichens in Northeast Ohio counties found 305 new county records. This study shows that a concentrated effort can dramatically add to the known lichen flora of an area, particularly one that has not been studied for some time.
Special thanks to Ray Showman, Dr. Barbara Andreas, and Robert Curtis for mentoring and encouraging me through my studies.
Brodo, I. (2016). Keys to Lichens of North America. Ottawa, Ontario: Canadian Museum of Nature.
Flenniken, D. (1999). The Macrolichens in West Virginia. Sugarcreek, OH: Carlisle Printing. Hinds, J. and Hinds, P. (2007). The Macrolichens of New England. Bronx, NY: The New York Botanical Garden Press.
Lendemer, J., Harris, R., and Tripp, E. (2013). The Lichens and Allied Fungi of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. Bronx, NY: The New York Botanical Garden Press.
Showman, R. and Flenniken, D. (2004). The Macrolichens of Ohio. Columbus, OH: Ohio Biological Survey.
Lichen Portal: http://lichenportal.org/portal/
Ohio Moss and Lichen Association: https://ohiomosslichen.org/
North American Lichen Checklist: https://www.ndsu.edu/pubweb/~esslinge/chcklst/chcklst7.htm
Tomás J. Curtis
(published in OBELISK, Vol. 14, p. 1-9)