Systematics and Phylogeny

The purpose of the research in the field of systematics and phylogeny is to "improve" the current biological system – to find out the species that are phylogenetically related and to assign them to the same genus, but also to find ways how to delimit different genera more evenly. For this we use different methods to analyze molecular characters, and also evaluate morphological and chemical traits. Currently we study the lichens from the family Parmeliaceae. It is the biggest family among lichenized fungi, including about 80 genera and 2700 species. Specifying species phylogeny serves two purposes: firstly, it contributes to the theoretical knowledge about speciation and species relationships; secondly, phylogenetical delimitation of taxa helps us to assess more accurately various qualities of species, their distribution, bioindicative potential, vulnerability etc. The following persons in our team study lichen systematics and phylogeny: Tiina Randlane, Andres Saag, Lauri Saag, Tiiu Tõrra and Kristiina Mark.


Ecological studies of our team deal with the species richness and composition, and the factors affecting these qualities in different forest types, wooded meadows and on alvars. We evaluate the impact of different substrate qualities (e.g. bark pH, tree circumference, lighting) and characteristics of forest communities (e.g. age of the forest stand, species composition, location) as potential factors which influence lichen species richness and composition. We also research bioindicative values of lichens related to air pollution and forest continuity. The following persons in our team study lichen ecology: Inga Jüriado, Liis Marmor and Ede Leppik.

Floristics and Conservation

The whole team consistently works on the species composition of lichenized, lichenicolous and closely related fungi in Estonia. Currently the checklist of Estonian lichen biota consists of 1132 species, of which 926 are lichenized fungi (lichens), 176 belong to the group of lichenicolous fungi, and 30 species of saprotrophic fungi are systematically close to lichens. The checklist is updated every year. We also gather data about the distribution and habitat of species in order to evaluate the vulnerability of lichen species, their need for protection and suitable conservation methods. On the proposal of our team, 51 lichen species were taken under the protection of state law in 2004. In 2008 we prepared the part of lichens for the Estonian Red List of Threatened Species.


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