Kathleen M Thompson

Graduate Assistant-Teaching
Kathleen Thompson

My research involves furthering our understanding of the lichen diversity within Iowa - which happens to be far from current and comprehensive. There have been a total of 465 different species recorded for Iowa, with a large number of these records based on only a single accession (107) as well as collected prior to 1960 (103). White Pine Hollow State Forest, located in northwest Dubuque County, Iowa, is no exception.

I am conducting a lichen diversity survey at White Pine Hollow, which currently boasts only 52 lichen species recorded from a total of 101 accessions (82% of which are from 1965 or earlier). Located within the Driftless Area, the geology and vegetative communities of White Pine Hollow are far from the rich-soiled, rolling hills typical of the vast majority of Iowa. Instead, there are rocky outcrops, algific slopes, and species such as white pine (Pinus strobus), canoe birch (Betula papyrifera), Canada yew (Taxus canadensis), as well as a rich diversity of bryophytes. Considering this rich and rare diversity of vegetation, uncharacteristic landscape features, and status as a preserve, it is reasonable to hypothesize that White Pine Hollow may possess a high level of lichen diversity, potentially including rare species for the state. 

While conducting this survey, I will be paying particular attention for a potentially extirpated Iowa lichen species: Lobaria pulmonaria. There are a total of three known collections of Lobaria pulmonaria in Iowa, the last of which was at White Pine Hollow in 1901. Search efforts have been made in northeast Iowa, but no populations have been located. I plan to use this diversity survey as another attempt to discover extant populations of this large and distinctive lichen species. If no populations are discovered, I plan to examine the possibility of conducting a Lobaria pulmonaria reintroduction at White Pine Hollow State Forest. 

Area of Expertise: 
Biological Diversity
Ecosystem Ecology
Conservation Ecology
Ecology and Evolutionary Biology
357 Bessey Hall