Resources and Links

NPLichen Report
This report describes the history of the development of NPLichen, a database of lichens of the U. S. National Parks, followed by a description of the steps taken to upgrade the database.

Lichens of the U.S. National Parks Paper
A paper analyzing the data in this database appeared in The Bryologist in 2005.

USGS News Announcement
To see publicity about this website, please view the news announcement from USGS.

National Park Lichens (NPLichen): A Database of Lichens in U.S. National Parks (

Crustose lichens at Petrified Forest National Park - photo by Scott Williams
Crustose lichens at Petrified Forest National Park - photo by Scott Williams

This National Park Lichens (NPLichen) database contains over 29,900 records of documented occurrences of lichens in units of the U. S. National Park System. The records were obtained from the scientific literature, from National Park Service reports, and from the University of Minnesota Herbarium. Unpublished herbarium records from other herbaria are not included because they cannot be cited. Over 530 references reporting over 2650 lichen species from 153 park units are included. Only parks with reported lichens are included in the database. We have been unable to locate lichen references for other parks in the National Park system. All lichen names were standardized to Version 13 (2008) of Esslinger's Checklist of North American Lichens. Please view the NPLichen Disclaimers before running any of the queries.

This database was developed jointly by James P. Bennett, U. S. Geological Survey and University of Wisconsin, Madison, WI and Clifford M. Wetmore, University of Minnesota, St. Paul, MN. Website development was by the NBII Program Office and University of Wisconsin. Funding for this database was provided by the U. S. Geological Survey, Madison, WI and the Great Lakes Network Office, National Park Service, Ashland, WI.

The following citation may be used when referencing this site: NPLichen, A Database of Lichens in the U. S. National Parks. [fill in date]. Version 4.5. U. S. Geological Survey. Accessed [fill in date].

Detailed Information

Output of the park list report includes the species name and authority of all the species found in the park, the reference code for each occurrence, whether or not the type for a species was described from the park, and whether or not the presence of the species in the park has been verified. The latter is determined by knowing whether or not the locality was inside or outside the park boundary. The species list report is similar, but instead includes a list of parks where the species was found, the reference code, the type if applicable, and whether or not the occurrence has been verified.

At the end of the park list and species list reports is a tally of how many lichen species are found in a park or how many parks a lichen species is found in, respectively. No park has a complete list of species because collecting activity is on-going. But, many parks are considered near complete, while others have only a few listed. This is due to the sources of the data.

Some of the lichen names in the parks are of old group species that have recently been split into smaller species. Also, in some cases, the specimen on which an original report was based has been reidentified as another, also accepted, name. References to these older species are included as well as the more recent splits (if any) or identification so the total species and lists for a park may not be accurate. This cannot be resolved without reexamination of the original specimens on which the reports were based. In addition, when a specimen is listed in the result set as a type, it may mean that the type of a synonym was collected in the park and not the type of the older, correct name that is listed.

As more information becomes available over time, taxonomic groupings are often reshuffled, resulting in disagreement about the proper placement of some organisms. Many lichenologists do not accept all of the genera and species listed in the North American Checklist, which was used as a reference in standardizing this list of names. A list of lichen species in national park units that have not yet been added to the North American Checklist, which are included in this database, can be found by viewing the list of Lichens Not in the North American Checklist. In addition, we believe that some species of lichens that are listed in the literature have been misidentified. These species are not listed in the species query, but are available in a separate list of Misidentified Lichen Species. If misidentified species have been attributed to a park, they are listed separately from the correct species when the results of the park query are returned.

This database does not contain a complete park list or detailed information on other aspects of the U. S. National Parks. For a complete list of parks and information on where the parks are located, size of parks, etc. please visit the National Park Service website.

Toxic Lichen Information

Reindeer eating lichen
Reindeer eating lichen

In early 2004, wild elk in Wyoming began to weaken and die of an unknown cause. The deaths were eventually attributed to having eaten the lichen Xanthoparmelia chlorochroa. News briefs from this incident, along with a list of literature about other lichen species that may be toxic to wildlife are now available at Literature On Toxic Lichens and Lichen Compounds

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