Summary of Lichen discussion from iSpot.

From -which is now deleted.

Southern African Lichens
3 January 2015 - 4:19PM By Tony Rebelo

I would dearly love a project on lichens of southern Africa.
But how do we achieve this? There are lots of genera scattered among fungi: how to collect them (clearly iSpot does not allow more than 1 scientific name, let alone almost 300 genera).
And please dont suggest a tag: tagging thousands of lichen observations is not going to work. One option is via the dictionary (they are flagged in our dictionary, but that data are not in iSpot!!)
Some information at - e.g. lists of Lichen genera
All Lichens
1547 READS Report content as inappropriate

In Sept 2017, iSpot was upgraded and the site and projects devastated. They following is a summary of what was salvaged.


I know that there are lots of
5 January 2015 - 11:04PM Jonathan
I know that there are lots of lichenised fungi, but if there are a few top-level groups then you can use these. That's all I can suggest.

Top level groups
5 January 2015 - 11:18PM Tony Rebelo
But the taxonomy filter only allows one taxon. So one cannot select several families. Nor could you removed subtaxa within a taxon if they are not licheniferous.
The southern African community has migrated to iNaturalist at with all its data in early 2018. Beware that southern African data and identifications on this site are out of date and no longer updated.

What would work
11 January 2015 - 1:54PM Tony Rebelo
Is if I could load all the genera into a file and put it in the taxonomy filter box.
Any idea if this is possible?

A tribute to Marlandza
11 January 2015 - 8:27PM Tony Rebelo
Marlandza - in the days before projects, when she single-handedly tried to get a Lichen project going using tags:
& empty:
Alas: most months she blew her cap and had to spend the last few days without internet.
Thanks Marlandza: let us see how it plays out in the future!

Thanks Tony
16 January 2015 - 2:34PM marlandza
Lets see what we can do - ZA lichens are really something to spend time on -
At least I don't have cap problems now.
"'n Boer maak 'n plan" - do we have a Plan B?
Have mailed you something.

Taxonomical links
5 May 2015 - 9:08AM Tony Rebelo
A fuller taxonomy is available below, but here are taxonomical links to Marlandza's tags above.
(remember you can see the species for each genus by clicking on childs (those in blue have observations), and you can also go up the taxonomy tree by clicking on the name in the taxonomy-strip):

Note that you can bookmark the taxonomy url and just add the taxon to get all the observations for a taxon immediately using the "taxonomy link": bookmark this:
and just add your taxon (any valid scientific name or any rank)
substitute CoL or UKSI for the other two dictionaries (global and UK, respectively).
so Note you can also surf lichens using the following and just like the "taxonomy link" there is a browsing/surfing link - bookmark this
and just add your taxon (any valid scientific name or any rank)
substitute Chile, Hong-Kong or UK-and-Ireland for the other communities respectively

The species surfer
22 May 2015 - 9:15AM Tony Rebelo
The species surfer (browser) allows us to summarize our southern African Lichen data currently as:

Thanks Tony
5 May 2015 - 3:42PM marlandza
I've used these before, sometimes useful but also got quite confused - maybe I just need practice. Something for the wish-list here "can we take out those that do not have an firm ID?"

And please dont suggest a tag: tagging thousands of lichen obser
3 May 2015 - 7:15PM miked
Hi Tony how about tagging the lichen observations? At least the ones that don't have an ID. This is to enable an expert in lichens to see them all together rather than fighting their way through all the fungi. This seems to work quite well with bryophytes as the bryophyte experts can keep an eye on the bryophytes club project which they set up and which collects uk bryophytes using various means including tags of unidentified species (so long as the observer adds moss, liverwort, bryophyte or whatever other tags are being collected). At least this is how I think it works.
Could suggest to the SA people that they add lichen or bryophyte or whatever other similar group to the tag list to help the experts in those areas?
Expect you have thought about this and there is some reason why it would not work, is it just that there are so many lichen observations on already that don't have tags or name? Perhaps they could be picked out with an unidentified filter and tag added?

Why use tags for Bryophytes??
3 May 2015 - 7:51PM Tony Rebelo
Bryophytes are a taxonomical group - just ID them as Bryophyta and your experts will find them either with a project with that taxonomical filter, or a filter from the community page. No need for tags a all.
But Lichens are not a good taxonomical group. And getting dozens of people to add tags is not going to work. And even as curator, I wont spend lots of time adding tags.
We need a better solution!!
One possibility is to add a synonym "Lichen" to the dictionary. Then anyone can label it is "taxon" Lichen. And it can link to all families and genera of fungi that have Lichens.
But I need to think more about this.
The southern African community has migrated to iNaturalist at with all its data in early 2018. Beware that southern African data and identifications on this site are out of date and no longer updated.

there is a need to tag them
3 May 2015 - 9:00PM miked
there is a need to tag them if you want them to be easier for experts to find e.g. in uk most 'fungi and lichens' are fungi and the vast majority of 'plants' are higher plants so experts in lichens or liverworts would have to trawl through thousands of observations to find the few unidentified ones they might help with. however if they were tagged and project for lichens or bryophytes then just look at those projects and most of the relevant observations are collected together (so long as user has tagged them with lichens or bryophytes).
I know this is far from ideal as it relies on users to do some tagging but it is something that works now and does not rely on input from programmers.

@ miked from marlandza now living in London
3 May 2015 - 9:45PM marlandza
I'd be happy to do anything to get experts to help with our SA Lichens -
Have thought and thought....
And selfishly, I'd be happy to do anything to get the ball rolling - could we do something simple to start . Like the terms that Dobson uses for his keys (even if they're not always the same) Lichen-foliose; lichen-fructose etc.
Would we be able to get drop-down suggested keys if we started with the term Lichen - much like the species names?
Tony's right in some ways, but not starting is also wrong. At one time I was recording lichen finds by other iSpotters and was getting a pattern of some who were posting regularly. So have links to their finds or at least their names
miked - If you suggested some meaningful terms that I could use to start (bearing in mind that I have a mind like a butterfly, but will come back to the same spot eventually). Then I could add the keys to my finds and then slowly try to see if others would follow.
Stopped thinking for now - brain has gone into overload.
Meantime thanks for offering to help.
PS have tried other ways of getting help - this is a link to a Picasa album I set up

marlandza, Not sure what you
4 May 2015 - 10:01AM miked
Not sure what you are suggesting, is it two things 1. how to get lichen experts in general (wherever in the world) to have a look at the ZA lichens, and 2. how to make a key at least to some of the main groups?
Quite a lot of lichens do have a worldwide distribution, recently an expert in arctic lichens helped me with a species from New Zealand since that species has a worldwide distribution but is nowhere common. So getting any expert to help may be useful. However 'experts' tend to define themselves by region and be wary of suggesting names for things outside their region as there could be other taxa there that they don't know about. I still think that a lichen project in general and possibly separate ones for UK, ZA, chile etc would be a start so long as the lichen observations can get tagged with 'lichen'. I have occasionally commented on Tony's lichens from Chile or ZA when I have seen that they look similar to ones from UK when I have been looking through global 'fungi and lichens' but it would be much easier if all the lichens were in one place in a project.
Presumably you have seen the iSpot keys and the method of creating them, there are some to lichens but rather specific usage in air pollution survey. I am not sure how well this would work for lichens in general as they often have so few easily observable characters to work with but it might be possible to chop them up into some of the groups you mention and perhaps some other artificial groups or obvious species/genera. This would not be a 'scientific' key but perhaps a beginners key to pick out some obvious taxa and get people interested. I suspect some taxonomists might regard this as a bad idea and I am not sure how wise it is myself. But if you could do the Lichen-foliose; lichen-fructose etc. and then within each of these groups divide again to show a few of the clearly defined taxa and 'the rest' then this might be a starting point and someone might then go on and develop the sections further.
In general it may be a good idea to look at the british bryological soc website and their ID book as it covers the UK bryophytes, hundreds of taxa but only using terms that an ordinary person would understand rather than the UK lichen guide (Dobson) that requires constant reference to glossary (at least by me!) to get anywhere.

KEYS, TAGS and other things
4 May 2015 - 4:38PM marlandza

  1. how to get lichen experts in general (wherever in the world) to have a look at the ZA lichens, -
    There has been some valuable input from international experts - but as you say it's sometimes difficult to give a firm ID from a photo.

  2. how to make a key at least to some of the main groups?
    A new problem for me has been that my UK finds are getting muddled with the ZA finds -
    which makes me think I could start with tagging LICHENS-UK and LICHENS-ZA - see what works for me and then if this makes sense we could do others.
    I see in the UK they are often separated - for example churchyard likens and another Scottish Atlantic Woodland. Surely we can do this - Tony should be able to assist - the Knysna Forest and other forest lichens could be separated. Then we have the Atlantic Coast and the Namaqualand inland area.

If going down the project
4 May 2015 - 5:11PM miked
If going down the project route then you just need to tag the observation 'lichen' and have a project for UK lichens and another one for ZA ones or any other country. In projects you can define the geographic area just using a polygon on the map. for example
You can define smaller areas but churchyards and Scottish atlantic woodlands would be too difficult to define just with polygons.

multiple polygons
4 May 2015 - 6:43PM Tony Rebelo
You can have very many small polygons and map all the forests.
At a slightly larger scale:
& (this one defeats iSpot to display the mapped areas - see the map tab to see them)

who is going to tag?
4 May 2015 - 8:56PM Tony Rebelo
There are thousands of Lichens on iSpot southern Africa: who is going to tag them?

THOUGHT, and this may not work BUT...
2 November 2015 - 3:11AM marlandza
I've started to duplicate my ZA liken finds on Flickr - where I can create albums for my favourite locations and by using tags have more than one species in an observation.
I've created a GROUP for southern African Lichens and have joined a global group named LICHENS.
Early days yet, but this may get exposure that we've not been getting on iSpot.
My first entries have been "just dumped" but I'm hoping to refine them and add a link to iSpot where appropriate.
I've defined two small areas so far - Lichens of Rondebosch Common and another of Noordhoek .
If it works for me, it would be nice if we could do this for the "forest" lichens of the Garden route.
Also the Namaqualand and Northern Cape could be meaningful for (to) me.
PS My Flickr name is Marigold Wilderness

RE: If going down the project
27 July 2017 - 3:17PM marlandza
Hope you find this mike
My favourite lichens are the ones that the iSpot calls Neofuscelia which may be causing some confusion.
But now 2017 and a new iSpot and a current list of LICHEN PROJECTS
Lichens: Southern Africa :
Lichens: Acarospora:
Lichens: Caloplaca : Southern Africa: :
Lichens: Cladonia: Southern Africa:
Lichens: Gigi's SA Finds:
Lichens: Marland's SA Finds:
Lichens: Nicky van B's Finds:
Lichens: Pseudocyphellaria: Southern Africa:
Lichens: Ramalina:
Lichens: Southern Cape:
Lichens: Teloschistes: Southen Africa: :
Lichens: Usnea:
Lichens: Xanthomaculina :
Lichens: Xanthoparmelia: Southern Africa:
Lichens: Xanthoria: Southern Africa:
4 May 2015 - 7:08PM miked
have set up this project, it has mainly UK lichens at the moment. Might try to get lichen people to look at this project as it should have mostly things they are interested in.
Mainly UK at moment because I am using the tag 'lichen' and lots of uk lichens are already tagged with this. I could add more tags if they would pick up more lichens, can you suggest any? Note this is the global lichen project at the moment hoping that lichen people from whatever part of the world might have a look at it.

"who is going to tag them?"
4 May 2015 - 9:53PM marlandza
I've started with mine - LICHEN-ZA and then "the region" would be of interest I think. Especially where there are places that might have a tourist potential.
"Visiting South Africa? Wonder what areas are lichen-rich." They could look at what we've posted, maybe do some homework and have a great holiday lichen-hunting.
Please advise if you think I should do the tags differently.
HOWEVER - There are some people who have posted lichens willy-nilly to iSpot - with not much thought as to how these could be retrieved in a meaningful way - many of these won't be identifiable due to the quality of the image - you win some, you lose some.

Lichen rich areas!
4 May 2015 - 10:43PM Tony Rebelo
The West Coast, especially towards the Richtersveld and the southern Namib are especially rich in Lichens. For starters why not get a copy of
V. Worth. Lichens of the Namib Desert Demasius

I have added LICHEN-ZA to the
4 May 2015 - 11:11PM miked
I have added LICHEN-ZA to the project but it has not picked up many more lichens in ZA. Most of the ones shown there just have lichen in the tag. It is probably ok just to use 'lichen' and then use the map to zoom in on the area of interest or make another project and define the area on the map.

Thanks miked
5 May 2015 - 12:16AM marlandza
This will help with your project. And my problem of lichens fund in both hemispheres. I'll keep using that tag.
Very confused by Tony's information-overload.

Its simple
5 May 2015 - 12:30AM Tony Rebelo
Southern African Lichens are now displaying here, without needing tags.
or to summarize the current situation:

Numbers games
5 May 2015 - 8:45AM marlandza
Of the 907 how many have been ID'ed?
Then of the 578 and growing, there are probably quite a lot more that have been ID and commented upon - I know from my posts to iSpot UK.

5 May 2015 - 9:26AM Tony Rebelo
All have been ID'd otherwise they would not be in the project - the filter relies on the ID!!
There are others that are not IDd yet: they wont show.
All three projects will grow, but more in proportion to contributors than taggers.
I think I have shown below that your tags are defunct: move over to the taxonomy: it is far more powerful.

Because tagging them is so ridiculous
5 May 2015 - 12:25AM Tony Rebelo
Because tagging them is so ridiculous, I have changed this project.
Now anyone can make any Lichen link to this project, by simply IDing them as Lecanoromycetes. The experts can then assign them to any other groups where they are wrong.
The other groups are listed below. Unfortunately at this stage iSpot does not allow multiple taxa (like it does with groups, habitats, tags and users).
If it did then we could have "Lecanoromycetes, Arthoniales, Baeomycetales, Candelariales, Lecideales, Lichinomycetes, Mucorales, Mycocaliciales, Orbiliales, Pleosporales, Pyrenulales, Trypetheliales, Umbilicariales, Verrucariales" to define 99% of Lichens.
The project will also accept the ID of English Name "Lichen"
Now that is a far more elegant solution than putting in tags all over the place. But it does mean that when properly identified (with a common name) the observations will leave the project. (but not this project)

5 May 2015 - 12:28AM marlandza
I've been IDing as LICHEN the unknown's for ages
so how does this link to the project.
Confused by the reference to Common name - if we don't have an ID how will we have a common name?
So what is the aim of the new project?

5 May 2015 - 12:34AM Tony Rebelo
The ID of Common Name = "Lichen" is a valid ID.
This project will collect them.
How? Because that is how the filter is set up!
Anyone can make the ID!! No need for tags, or for trying to get someone else to tag.
And if you know the Scientific name (to order, family, genus, species), it will still stay in this project 95% of the time. (The other 5% are the smaller Lichen groups which this project cannot cope with at present).

Either way
5 May 2015 - 8:40AM marlandza
one still need to go back to update the LICHEN in common name or tag -
My problem is with my own lichen finds from UK and ZA - the ZA ones - even with the name as LICHEN - this has not been agreed. There aren't enough people looking at them, never mind the experts!
With the tags I'll be able to separate my finds when looking back. This problem has come with iSpot becoming global.

You are welcome to tag and organize your own
5 May 2015 - 9:20AM Tony Rebelo
You are welcome to tag and organize your own. Who will do everyone elses?
But I reiterate what I said two years ago: Using the taxonomy is far more powerful and useful than tags. With the taxonomy you can look at children, go up and down the taxonomic tree (parents and children) with a click.
And anyone can contribute until an expert pops in. We do have experts look in occasionally. And they do make a huge difference.
You may want to read this:

(end of part 1)

Posted by tonyrebelo tonyrebelo, February 11, 2019 20:55


No comments yet.

Add a Comment

Sign In or Sign Up to add comments