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Lichen Niches and Distributions Lab Activity

Author(s): Jessica Coyle

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This is a 2-part lab activity based on the EREN-NEON Flexible Learning Project: Lichens in Diverse Landscapes. Students conduct field surveys of lichen abundance near their homes and explore large-scale geospatial data on lichens and the environment.


This lab activity implements Modules 1 and 2 of the EREN-NEON Flexible Learning Project: Lichens in Diversity Landscapes. Please see the project webpage for links to their materials:

This lab activity adaptation includes teaching notes and all necessary instructional materials for students. It includes three data sets based on publicly-available data that have been prepared for student use, along with instructions and R scripts for downloading preparing these data.

Learning Objectives:

  • Explain how a species’ niche affects its distribution.
  • Gain experience in species identification, morpho-species classification, and how to make abiotic and biotic measurements in field settings.
  • Explore how bioindicator organisms can be used to assess land-use change, air pollution, and other environmental impacts.
  • Explore how to use multi-site collaborative data to conduct regional and continental scale analyses to address ecological and macroecological questions.
  • Conduct an observational study to distinguish among multiple hypotheses.
  • Display relationships among categorical or continuous variables using figures that are appropriate for the data types.
  • Evaluate whether a relationship exists between two variables using a statistical analysis that is appropriate for the data types.

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