News Release

New from NYBG Press: An easy-to-use guide to lichens of northeastern North America

Book Announcement

The New York Botanical Garden

An Easy-to-Use Guide to Lichens of Northeastern North America for Non-specialists

image: "Common Lichens of Northeastern North America," by Troy McMullin and Frances Anderson, is a light, user-friendly field guide that covers the rich lichen flora of New England and eastern Canada. Published by The New York Botanical Garden Press, the book is an ideal introduction to these important but often overlooked organisms. view more 

Credit: NYBG Press

Designed to be a user-friendly reference for non-specialists, Common Lichens of Northeastern North America is a light and easy-to-use field guide that covers the rich lichen flora of northeastern North America. Authors Troy McMullin and Frances Anderson have designed their book, now available from The New York Botanical Garden Press, for amateur naturalists, nature interpreters, forestry workers, land surveyors, researchers, and anyone who is interested in learning more about this important but often neglected group of organisms.

Meant to fit in a pocket or backpack, Common Lichens requires no previous botanical experience and is written in non-technical language. The book covers 138 species mostly seen in New England, the Canadian Maritimes, Newfoundland, Quebec, and eastern Ontario.

Lichens, which are composite organisms formed by the combination of a fungus and an alga or cyanobacterium or both, are important to the full functioning of an ecosystem, and their presence or absence is an indicator of the health of that ecosystem. They provide food and shelter for animals and invertebrates, increasing the biodiversity of many ecosystems, and certain types of lichen are often among the few nitrogen-fixing organisms in some habitats, making them vital to plant life. Because they absorb nutrients directly from the atmosphere and the water that washes over them, they are sensitive environmental indicators. Many species die when air pollution is too great.

Each lichen species included in Common Lichens has its own page, including a full-color photograph accompanied by a black-and-white drawing to help with identification in the field. The guide is formatted so that species are arranged as they are encountered in the field, starting with the surface on which they live (trees, rocks, or soil), then by their shape or growth form, color, and features that are distinctive to each species. Apart from the book, all that is needed to identify these lichens is a magnifying glass.

Common Lichens also contains practical tips to help amateurs begin collecting and preserving lichens, whether on nature trips or in the backyard. Recognizing and appreciating these fascinating and often beautiful organisms will enrich the user's understanding of the diversity of the natural world.

About The Authors of Common Lichens of Northeastern North America

Troy McMullin, Ph.D., is a lichenologist and forest ecologist at the University of Guelph. His ecological interests are diverse, but they became focused when he began studying lichens in the old-growth forests of southwestern Nova Scotia as part of his Master's research at Dalhousie University in Halifax. This research led to consulting work on lichens in the public and private sector. He has worked closely with provincial and federal governments in Nova Scotia, Prince Edward Island, and several other Canadian provinces. He completed his doctoral work at the University of Guelph, where he studied the effects of forestry on lichen diversity in northern Ontario.

Frances Anderson, a Research Associate at the Nova Scotia Museum, has published a provisional checklist of larger lichens for Nova Scotia and coauthored research reports into the risk status of two lichen species for the Committee on the Status of Endangered Wildlife in Canada, among other scientific publications. She has done lichen surveys for forestry companies and conservation groups, produced several lichen brochures related to particular geographic areas or hiking trails, written a book chapter on lichens, and led lichen walks for naturalists.

Advance Praise for Common Lichens of Northeastern North America

"Finally, a book for anyone who has seen a lichen and wondered what that growth might be and what caused it."

--James Lendemer, Ph.D., Institute of Systematic Botany, The New York Botanical Garden

"Naturalists, botanists, and students will enjoy exploring a new miniature world."

--Bruce McCune, Ph.D., Oregon State University

"An easy-to-transport, must-have resource for any natural history enthusiast of the I-95 corridor and beyond."

--Erin Tripp, Ph. D., Museum of Natural History, University of Colorado, Boulder


About The New York Botanical Garden Press

Since 1896 The New York Botanical Garden Press ( has been publishing books and journals based on original research by plant scientists from around the world. Its mission is to put information in the hands of those engaged in exploring, understanding, and conserving plants and fungi. Areas of focus include floristics, systematics, economic botany, ecology, evolution, and ethnobotany. A growing list of books for general readers includes field guides and botanical history.

Ordering Information: Common Lichens of Northeastern North America ($39 spiral-bound hardcover) is available through NYBG Press. To order, call 718.817.8721 or go to Also available through online retailers.

Disclaimer: AAAS and EurekAlert! are not responsible for the accuracy of news releases posted to EurekAlert! by contributing institutions or for the use of any information through the EurekAlert system.