Macrolichens are much better known in North America than crustose lichens, but most of the lichens found in biotic crusts are crustose lichens. Keys and line drawings for macrolichens from the Pacific Northwest and northern Rocky Mountains are provided by Goward et al. (1994), McCune and Goward (1995), and Goward (1999). Brodo et al. (2001) and McCune and Geiser (1997) provided color photos for selected species. Despite these resources, almost none of the lichen species growing in biotic crusts in the Pacific Northwest have been illustrated with color photos in sufficient magnification and detail for confident identification. The authors hope that Biotic Soil Crust Lichens of the Columbia Basin will help to relieve that problem.
Lichens in soil crusts are often difficult to identify. Currently available books for identifying lichens do not illustrate the critical features needed for identification. The authors try to fill this need by providing photographs of all of the species at the necessary scale – ranging from what you can see with a hand lens to what you can see through a compound microscope. Wherever possible, they emphasize macroscopic features, but in many cases microscopic characters make the task much easier and help to confirm the identification.
Biotic Soil Crust Lichens of the Columbia Basin is aimed at both technical and naturalist audiences. It is hoped that the use of color photographs will help someone without much experience, while the authors strive to provide the technical details needed for more certain identification.
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