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Naming rights for new species up for auction online

Now is your chance. The naming rights to two new species of lichen are being auctioned online, with the proceeds going to the Ancient Forest Alliance and The Land Conservancy of B.C.

Vancouver Sun - Larry Pynn, June 16, 2011

Naming rights for new species up for auction online
Click for larger image

Naming rights for this new species of Bryoria or “Horsehair Lichen”, which forms elegant black tresses on the branches of trees in old-growth forests, will be auctioned off to help raise funds for the Ancient Forest Alliance.
Photo by Jason Hollinger

Ever wanted your name permanently associated with a stationary life form that is part algae and part fungi and wholly underappreciated?

Now is your chance. The naming rights to two new species of lichen are being auctioned online, with the proceeds going to the Ancient Forest Alliance and The Land Conservancy of B.C.

Trevor Goward, curator of lichens at the University of British Columbia and author of several books, said in an interview Friday he discovered a new species of horsehair lichen in the mid-1990s in the Hazelton-Kispiox area and a new species of crottle lichen in the Clearwater Valley two years ago, both of them in old-growth B.C. forests.

With help from molecular lichenologists at the University of Helsinki in Finland and the University of Madrid in Spain, both species have been recently confirmed as unique, he said.

Goward has been studying lichens since the late 1970s and has already found about 20 new species.

"It's like working in the Amazonian rainforest," he said.

"So few people have looked at these things. What we don't know is overwhelming."

Scientific protocol dictates that the rights to name a new species go to the person who describes it, and in this case Goward is allowing those rights to be sold to the highest bidder.

The genus would remain unchanged, and the species name would have to be put into Latin form, he said.

For example, if the crottle lichen was named after someone named Smith, it would be formally Parmelia smithii.

"It's like being present at a irth," Goward said.

"We know the surname. What we're deciding is what this baby will be called. The point is that the baby will last 70 or 80 years whereas this name will last for as long as civilization."

Goward doesn't care whether an individual or a multinational corporation wins, saying it's all about raising money for conservation.

"Call it a gimmick or whatever. We're a species that likes to name things. Very little money is going into conservation."

To make a bid on naming the new species of horsehair lichen, visit www.ancient forestalliance.org The deadline is Oct. 2.

If you'd prefer to name the crottle lichen, visit conservancy.bc.ca

That deadline is Sept. 10.


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