Erin and co-authors submit a major manuscript that revises the classification of worldwide Acanthaceae, which includes the first ever global dichotomous keys to the genera
Erin and 30 colleagues from herbaria around the world launch initial stages of the first ever formal Herbarium Training Course
Angie finalizes plans for fieldwork in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park this upcoming summer to observe and isolate microinvertebrate fauna from lichens. Looking forward to collaborating with Park Education Branch Chief, Susan Sachs, to create protocols for lichen-oriented citizen science in the Park!
Jessica Persinger hired as a researcher to spearhead remaining genomic work on NSF Dimensions Southern Appalachian Lichens project!
Angie is a current Master’s student in the Museum and Field Studies program and a graduate assistant in the COLO Herbarium. Before moving to Colorado, she earned her undergraduate degree in Wildlife Ecology and Conservation at the University of Florida where she spent a lot of time hanging out in various swamps. Angie is particularly interested in the community ecology within the lichen microbiome! For her Master’s thesis, Angie is investigating the associations between micro-invertebrates and lichen species in Great Smoky Mountains National Park. She is also looking forward to honing her herbaria curatorial skillset. In her spare time, Angie likes to garden, hike and continue to learn about the natural world!
Skylar is a current graduate student interested in tropical plant phenology. Skylar got their undergraduate degree in Ecology and Evolutionary Biology from both Bard College at Simon’s Rock and Central Michigan University, and spent a lot of time in the forests of Western Massachusetts, which helped inspire their love of plants. Skylar is also interested in herbarium collections and advocating for increased support for herbarium based research. Skylar is also an advocate for Diversity, Equity and Inclusion and has worked with and is a part of many communities including the LGBTQ+ community and the Indigenous community. Skylar hopes to advocate for more diversity in STEM and in EBIO in particular.
Carly and Erin travel by small plane to prepare series of field lichenology teaching videos, in effort to rapid-fire design a new lab manual for a former field course now moved fully online (thanks, Covid). Success!
See our youtube channel: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCAI8L-EGLN7-W1IJmcALoZA/videos
Erin Tripp elected President (President-elect) of the Society of Herbarium Curators!
First – entropy of our lab continues. It was so clean on that first morning. Oh well.
Second – we estimate that we have spent a cumulative 37 hours clipping PoD (“Potential of Diversity”… a metric we invented… sorry, ecololgists!) toothbrush bristles into sterile bags, and from there emptying bristles into sterile 1.5 uL microtubes. Sometimes it is best not to think about how those hours could have instead been used (note: this doesn’t include an estimated 50 hours we have spent collecting these samples in the first place, in the field).
Over just a few field days, James and I have already collected a thousand new voucher specimens (as in, actual museum vouchers… not dust/propagules on toothbrushes!). We have returned some great stuff – and there is plenty more to come!
Amongst the photos: a Thin Layer Chromatography plate showing chemistry of 25 of my collections…. lichen compounds are needed to identify these organisms to species; an ascus (with 8 spores; can’t remember why? google meiosis!) of Pertusaria propinqua… taken thru my microscope; toothbrushes covered in lichen propagules, in ziplocs/bondage; frozen leaves of Rhododendron catawbiense on the frozen summit of Blood Mtn, where I wanted to die on account of numbness and for lack of any finger mobility whatsoever (you know it is BAD NEWS when Rhodo leaves fold like that!); Parmotrema mellissii under UV light, showing a UV+ reaction indicative of the presence of alectoronic acid; some paper bags of a couple of our plots, showing the raw locality data; the DINGO (aka: PoD window); James and Erin having a field day!
Colleague James Lendemer and I landed in the mtns of north Georgia late last night – 3 January 2019. Today, the 4th, despite torrential rains throughout the day today, we managed to finish “Master Plot 105”… that marks our 105th 1-hectare lichen inventory plot on this NSF-funded “Dimensions of Biodiversity” research grant that seeks to understand the causes and correlates of abiotic and biotic factors that limit (or facilitate… are you an optimist? I mean, why not be?) the distributions of biodiversity. We feel we are making good progress… standby for results!
What are we doing with those sterile (kosher!) toothbrushes and 4×4 teal windows (affectionately, our “dingo”)? Scrubbing rocks and trees and sampling their ‘dust’, effectively capturing lichen spores/propagules present in the environment, sequencing these samples, and attempting to thereby detect the presence or absence of all the symbionts in a given 1-ha plot. In other words: if lichen species A isn’t present at a site, is it because the site is lacking one or more of its obligate symbiotic partners? Hence the biotic constraints that limit (or facilitate) the distributions of biodiversity…
Need to see a titillating video of how these samples get processed? https://youtu.be/vpoEc0unBBM
(Our ever present traveling laboratory prior to the processing of our first collection…. up early at 3:30am to get started… look how clean it is!! … not for long!)
In the Jocassee Gorges to our east, Whitewater Gorge specifically received an excess of 130 inches of rain as of the closing of 2018. Those gorges are home to more populations of filmy ferns than all other counties in the USA combined. And people question the legitimacy of the southern Apps as a temperate rainforest! Lucy Braun dubbed these forests the climax of the eastern temperate hardwood forest for a reason.
We concur. And marvel at the many unknowns… the many mysteries… still to discover in this temperate wonderland..