Symbioses are interactions between organisms and these biotic interactions abound in the natural world. Likewise, diversity, in all its forms, relates in some way to such interactions. Despite this, interactions between organisms are difficult to fully characterize and study in nature. Lichens are obligate symbioses formed between fungi and organisms that photosynthesize. They are a candidate model system in which to study how interactions between organisms, and their environments, govern the abundance and distribution of life on Earth. Beyond such broad scale themes, lichens are remarkable and dynamic fungi whose presence is critical to healthy ecosystems. Yet, they are highly threatened and have been extirpated from vast areas of the United States, including New York City.
This presentation will focus on research carried out during the last four years that aims to elevate lichens from objects of beauty and curiosity, to microcosms that exemplify our changing world.
About the Speaker
Lichenologist James Lendemer studies lichens, highly diverse and ecologically important fungi that are also threatened by anthropogenic change.
He has carried out extensive fieldwork in imperiled ecosystems throughout the United States, partnering with government agencies and local conservation organizations. His work has been featured in a wide range of outlets from local newspapers like the Graham County Star, to international media platforms like Scientific American and Science Friday. James is an assistant curator in the Institute of Systematic Botany at NYBG, and an assistant professor at the City University of New York Graduate Center.
Support for the Humanities Institute provided by The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation