April 3rd Program – Lichens

Lichens: a tale of three kingdoms

Matt Nelsen will reveal to us the fascinating world of lichens. These symbiotic associations between fungi and algae (green algae and cyanobacteria), encompass 20% of the known fungal diversity, making them arguably one of the most successful life strategies among the Fungi. These associations are estimated to dominate 10% of the earth’s land surface, where they contribute to biogeochemical cycling, serve as food sources for a wide range of animals, and support diverse microbiomes. Additionally, their sensitivity to air pollution and ecological change have made them important bioindicators of air quality and ecosystem health. This lecture will provide an overview of the general biology of lichen associations and their importance, while touching on their evolution, diversity, and ways in which humans and animals utilize lichens.

Dr. Matthew Nelsen is a postdoctoral researcher at the Field Museum, who studies the evolution of species interactions, associations, and how Fungi have shaped, and been shaped by, the evolution of terrestrial ecosystems. He has contributed to a wide range of research projects on lichens, including biomonitoring (air quality, ecological change), and the systematics and evolution of lichen-forming fungi, algae, and their parasites.

Niles Historical & Cultural Center is about a tenth of a mile Southeast from the Golf-Mill Shopping center. The former sheriff’s office has parking behind the building. The meeting room is on the third floor and is accessible by elevator as well as a large staircase. Restrooms are available on first and third floors. A museum volunteer will open the building for us this evening. For public transport from the city, take the Blue Line to the Jefferson Park CTA Station, from there it is 20 minutes on the PACE #270 bus to Milwaukee and Elizabeth. The museum is open to the public Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays from 10:30 AM to 3:00 PM.

MUSEUM TOUR: Come early for a narrated tour of the museum. The tour will begin at 6:30pm; 1 hour before our IMA meetings on all of the days we have meetings there. So, if you cannot make the tour for the next meeting, maybe you can make it for a later IMA meeting date. No worries, if you get there a little late, we will direct you to where the tour has progressed. The tour is FREE. Niles Historical and Cultural Center is a 501 (C3) non-profit, any small donations are gladly accepted. You will not be disappointed you came a little early to make time for the tour.


Niles Historical Society
8970 Milwaukee Avenue
Niles, IL 60714

Contact Person

1) Events Chair
Pamela McCann

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