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More than one-third of native tree-dwelling and soil-dwelling lichen species are endangered. In the SwissLichens data centre, we gather information about the distribution of lichens that exist in Switzerland and provide the basis for their protection.

 

Lichens exist in an abundance of forms and colours, with around 2,000 species recorded in Switzerland. They grow on trees, deadwood, soil and stones. Despite this, more than one-third of native tree-dwelling and soil-dwelling lichen species are endangered. In the national data and information centre SwissLichens, we compile data on lichen habitats and their ecology, and in doing so document spatial and temporal changes in their populations in Switzerland.

SwissLichens provides the basis for implementing conservation measures for lichens. We advise the federal government, cantonal authorities and the public on how lichens can be nurtured, publish species protection pamphlets  and issue the Red List of endangered tree-dwelling and soil-dwelling lichens of Switzerland in collaboration with the Federal Office for the Environment (FOEN).

Under special observation: lung lichen

Lung lichen (lobaria pulmonaria) is a distinctive and easily identifiable foliose lichen which grows on older deciduous trees in Central Europe. Over the last 100 years, the species has declined sharply over its entire range and is now endangered in Switzerland and many other countries in Europe, North America and Asia.

Since the late 1980s, we have been studying the conservation biology and genetics of lung lichen and other tree-dwelling forest lichens. Our research focuses on both the fungal and algal partners in the lichen symbiosis, which enables us to answer current research questions, including with regard to the dispersal ecology of symbiotic systems.

 

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