Measurement of growth in the lichen Rhizocarpon geographicum using a new photographic technique
Henry, Nicole M.
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Lichenologists and users of lichenometry have long used calipers or photogrammetry to measure the growth of crustose lichens. Now, digital photography and popular computer software provide methodological alternatives. This thesis developed and tested a new methodology for tracking change and growth of the lichen, Rhizocarpon geographicum. Adobe Photoshop CS3 Extended software and a photographic time series (1996,2003,2006 and 2007) were used to measure thallus diameter, area, prothallus width and areolae area in 115 small R. geographicum thalli (0.53-1049.88 mm2 ). Measures of 8 diameters per thallus showed that change in diameter was highly variable and is a weak index of growth. Thallus area was a reliable measure of growth (power correlation, R2 = 0.89). Rapid, highly irregular growth occurred in small thalli «30 mm2 ), and steady, uniform growth occurred in larger thalli (>30 mm2 ). This new methodology is tedious but can potentially generate accurate and precise measures for even the tiniest of lichens.