Diversity and conservation status of lichens and allied fungi in the Greater Toronto Area: results from four years of the Ontario BioBlitz
Keywords:Biogeography, biodiversity, conservation, citizen science, rare species, BioBlitz Canada
Bioblitzes are typically 24-hour biological surveys of a defined region carried out by taxonomic specialists, citizen scientists, and the general public. The largest in Canada is the Ontario BioBlitz, an annual event held in the Greater Toronto Area (GTA). Between 2013 and 2016, we examined the feasibility of including lichens and allied fungi in the Ontario BioBlitz. These taxa are often overlooked, understudied, and taxonomically difficult. We completed a bioblitz in each of the four major watersheds in the GTA and recorded 138 species in 72 genera which, combined with all previous collections, totals 180 species in 88 genera in the area. Thirteen of the species we collected are provincially ranked as S1 (critically imperilled), S2 (imperilled), or S3 (vulnerable). We collected Lecanora carpinea for the first time in Ontario. Our results provide a baseline list of GTA lichens that can be used for monitoring. This is one of the first detailed lichen surveys of a major North American urban area and it demonstrates that rapid bioblitz surveys are proficient in capturing lichen diversity despite their inconspicuous nature and the advanced microscopy and chemical analyses required for their identification.
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