The Lichen Flora Inventory of the Turnbull National Wildlife Refuge began in the 1950s with the collections of Harold R. Simms, a biology professor at Eastern Washington University. In 2010, EWU student Jessica Allen began subsequent collections. The next year Nastassja Noell, a volunteer at the EWU Herbarium became involved. And in 2013, independent lichenologist Jason Hollinger jumped on board and has helped us to complete the current phase of the inventory. This past summer we presented our preliminary results at the ABLS section of the Botany 2013 conference in New Orleans, and we’re currently working on finalizing and writing up our results, expected date of publication January 2014, in the journal Opuscula Philolichenum.

Our research is a collaboration between Dr. Robin O’Quinn professor of botany at EWU, Mike Rule a wildlife biologist at the Turnbull National Wildlife Refuge, Jessica Allen (now a grad student in lichenology at the New York Botanical Gardens) and Nastassja Noell (now a lichenology intern at the New York Botanical Gardens), and independent lichenologist Jason Hollinger. Much appreciation and gratitude to Dr. Lalita Calabria, Nastassja’s professor of lichenology at The Evergreen State College who made Nastassja’s role in this project possible. Funding sources include a partial grant from the Student Activities Foundation at Evergreen State College, and a full grant by the Northeast Chapter of the Washington Native Plants Society.

The current study has targeted habitats that were not visited in previous surveys, including mima mounds, vernal pools, meadow steppe, wetland margins, aspen communities, and the boundaries between these habitats, which are called ecotones. Previous studies focused primarily on ponderosa pine and basalt habitats. As of October 2013, nearly 250 species of lichen make up the official species list, a remarkable increase of over 350% from the previous list.