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Lichen-naming auction can be your path to immortality

The fastest way to immortality is to have the naming rights on a lichen, said biologist Andy MacKinnon, looking admiringly at the grey-green tresses of lichen hanging from trees in Goldstream Park.

Times Colonist - Judith Lavoie, December 14, 2011

The fastest way to immortality is to have the naming rights on a lichen, said biologist Andy MacKinnon, looking admiringly at the grey-green tresses of lichen hanging from trees in Goldstream Park.

"I can't help but think it would be the perfect Christmas present," said MacKinnon, coauthor of The Plants of Coastal B.C., which has sold 300,000 copies and is described as the Bible of B.C. botany.

"I'm sure you've heard the phrase 'A lichen is forever,' " he said.

Naming rights for two new species of lichen found in B.C.'s inland rainforest are up for grabs and bids in the public auction close at noon Thursday.

The lichens are the horsehairlike bryoria, which forms flowing brown-black tresses and the elegant, two-toned parmelia with strap-like lobes.

They were offered for auction by Trevor Goward, curator of lichens at the Beaty Biodiversity Museum at the University of B.C, who discovered the new species.

The winning bidder will be able to attach any name to the lichens and that name will stick forever, said MacKinnon, whose bids have already been overtaken.

"It's one of the very few ways people can achieve immortality," he said.

Proceeds from the bryoria auction will go to the Ancient Forest Alliance and the parmelia proceeds will go to The Land Conservancy.

The AFA money will probably be used to create new status reports and maps of remaining old-growth on Vancouver Island, said Ken Wu, AFA co-founder.

The last maps used data from 2004 and there have been at least two spikes in old-growth logging since then, he said.

It is the first time in Canada that "taxonomic tithing" - auctioning off naming rights to new species - has been used, he said.

"We're excited about this taxonomic tithing trial run in B.C, not just because it could greatly help fund our campaign to protect endangered old-growth forests here, but also because it could be applied just about everywhere else," Wu said. "It holds great potential as a creative conservation fundraiser."

To bid on the bryoria go to www.ancientforestalliance.org or phone 250-896-4007.

To bid on the parmelia go to www.conservancy.bc.ca or call 1-877-485-2422.

Read more:  http://www.timescolonist.com/life/fashion-beauty/Lichen+naming+auction+your+path+immortality/5858465/story.html


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