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Posted July 22, 2011

Wade Davis and Andy MacKinnon, BC’s Best Known Botanists, Make Bids for Naming Rights for New Species of Old-Growth Forest Lichens as part of Conservation Fundraiser

Two of BC's best known botanists Wade Davis and Andy MacKinnon have made over $12,000 in total combined bids for the naming rights to two newly discovered species of BC lichens.

Ancient Forest Alliance Media Release, July 22, 2011

Wade Davis and Andy MacKinnon, BC’s Best Known Botanists, Make Bids for Naming Rights for New Species of Old-Growth Forest Lichens as part of Conservation Fundraiser
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Naming rights for this new species of Bryoria or “Horsehair Lichen”, which forms elegant black tresses on the branches of trees in old-growth forests, will be auctioned off to help raise funds for the Ancient Forest Alliance.
Photo by Jason Hollinger

For Immediate Release

Friday, July 22, 2011

 

Wade Davis and Andy MacKinnon, BC’s Best Known Botanists, Make Bids for Naming Rights for New Species of Old-Growth Forest Lichens as part of Conservation Fundraiser

 

Two of BC's best known botanists Wade Davis and Andy MacKinnon have made over $12,000 in total combined bids for the naming rights to two newly discovered species of BC lichens as part of a conservation fundraiser.  MacKinnon has bid $3000 while Davis has bid $3200 for each of two new species of lichens found in BC’s inland rainforests:  an old-growth forest dependent "horsehair" lichen and a small "crottle" lichen.

 

Naming rights to the two species will be auctioned-off as fundraisers for two B.C. environmental groups:  the Ancient Forest Alliance (AFA) (www.ancientforestalliance.org) working to protect B.C.’s old-growth forests and The Land Conservancy (TLC) of British Columbia (www.conservancy.bc.ca), working to purchase private lands in the Clearwater River Valley adjacent to Wells Gray Provincial Park. Bidding will end on October 2, 2011.

 

“We’re lucky to have BC’s Rock Star botanists, Wade Davis and Andy MacKinnon, support this ground-breaking conservation fundraiser,” stated Ken Wu, co-founder of the Ancient Forest Alliance. “Wade has a long history as a great conservationist and ethnobotanist, working for decades to protect BC’s wilderness as well as tropical ecosystems and cultures.  Andy co-authored ‘Plants of Coastal BC’, which many think of as the ‘Bible of BC Botany’. He is also the foremost authority on old-growth forest ecology in this province.”

 

“Besides being an important initiative for BC forest conservation, our naming auction could provide a model for similar ‘taxonomic tithing’ fundraisers elsewhere:  a wonderful way to raise millions of dollars for conservation around the world as new species are discovered,” stated Barry Booth, TLC Northern Regional Manager. “Wade and Andy’s credibility help to show this is a serious and important initiative."

 

Wade Davis is one of the best known and widely read ethnobotanists on Earth, authoring numerous  books including the international best-seller, “The Serpent and the Rainbow”, and countless articles for “National Geographic’, “Outside”, ”Conde Naste”, and “Fortune” magazines.  He is an Explorer-in-Residence for National Geographic, writing about various regions of the planet while spending much of his time at his Stikine Valley cabin in the Sacred Headwaters region in northern BC.

 

Andy MacKinnon co-authored the “Plants of Coastal BC” which as has sold more than 300,000 copies since coming out in 1994, making it the highest selling botany field guide in Canadian history. Dog-eared copies can be found in the homes of hundreds of thousands of nature enthusiasts.  MacKinnon works as a forest ecologist for the BC government and resides in Metchosin on Vancouver Island.

 

The two lichen species were discovered in B.C. in recent years by botanical researcher Trevor Goward, who also contributed to "The Plants of Coastal BC". Since then their identity as undescribed species has been supported by two teams of molecular researchers working in Finland and Spain. According to scientific protocol, the right to give a new species its scientific name goes to the person who describes it. However, an online auction running on each organization’s website into the fall will earn the highest bidders the right to name these lichens - whether after loved ones, themselves, or whomever they choose.

 

“Having your name linked to a living species is a legacy that lasts,” said Goward. “It has been almost three centuries since the modern system of biological classification was developed by Carolus Linnaeus; and even now the names of people after whom he christened various plants and animals are still with us. With any luck your name will endure as long as our civilization does. Not even Shakespeare could hope for more than that.”

 

Lichens are small, stationary organisms often mistaken for plants, but better thought of as cooperative (symbiotic) unions of fungi and algae. Instead of invading or scavenging like other fungi, lichen fungi live off sugars from tiny photosynthetic algal cells maintained within the body of the lichen. Lichens are sometimes thought of as fungi that have discovered agriculture: http://www.waysofenlichenment.net/ways/readings/essay

 

Many lichens are sensitive to pollution and disturbance and become rare in urbanized and industrialized landscapes. The conversion of old-growth forests to tree plantations is taking a particularly heavy toll on the abundance and diversity of lichens in British Columbia. Some lichens provide critical winter food for animals like mountain caribou in B.C.’s inland rainforests and black-tailed deer in B.C.’s coastal rainforests.

 

Lichens come in many shapes and sizes. The lichen on loan to the Ancient Forest Alliance is a Bryoria or “Horsehair Lichen”, which forms elegant black tresses on the branches of trees in oldgrowth forests. The Land Conservancy’s lichen is a Parmelia or “Crottle Lichen”, consisting of strap-like lobes pale greyish above and black below. It too inhabits the branches of trees, and grows in the Clearwater Valley, where TLC is working with Goward to create a critical wildlife corridor for southern Wells Gray Park:

http://www.waysofenlichenment.net/wells/corridor

See more fascinating details about the lichens and taxonomic tithing from Trevor Goward at: http://waysofenlichenment.net/tithe/introduction

 

“We’re extremely grateful to Trevor for his innovative fundraising and awareness raising contribution to help us protect B.C.’s last endangered old-growth forests which sustain endangered species, the climate, tourism, and many First Nations cultures. As a new organization with limited funds, we need all the help we can get,” said Ken Wu, co-founder of the Ancient Forest Alliance.

 

“In partnership with Trevor, TLC is raising funds to create a permanent wildlife corridor that connects two separate portions of southern Wells Gray Provincial Park. The acquisition will include two significant donations of land by Trevor and his neighbours and the purchase of three further parcels. This naming auction will help support our campaign and we would like to thank Trevor for choosing TLC. Trevor’s passion and commitment to protecting B.C.’s special places is commendable,” said Barry Booth, TLC Northern Regional Manager.

 

A previous online auction for the naming of a new species of monkey in Bolivia netted $650,000, with proceeds going towards the protection of the monkey’s habitat. See http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/6939793/ns/us_news-environment/t/right-name-monkey-species-nets/

 

Those who want to make a bid to have one of the new species named after themselves or a loved one should visit the Ancient Forest Alliance’s website www.ancientforestalliance.org or phone 250-896-4007 or contact The Land Conservancy at www.conservancy.bc.ca/ or phone 1-877-485-2422.


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