CA Mushrooms
CA Mushrooms

Book Review

Lichen Biology

By T.H. Nash (Ed.)
Cambridge University Press
Second Edition, 2008
ISBN-10: 0521692164, ISBN-13: 978-0521692168
List Price $77.00

This book is written as a textbook, but is concise enough and approachable that non academics should not shy away. It has long been my go-to for answers about lichens (my copy is the 1996 first edition) and I highly recommend it. I don’t have any real complaints with the book, besides the price which varies wildly from seller to seller; if you can find one, a good used copy should suffice.

After a general introduction from the editor, the next four chapters deal primarily with morphological and anatomical aspects of photobionts and mycobionts, the intact thallus and its development. These are followed by four chapters presenting the essentials of lichen physiology including metabolism and biochemistry of carbon and nitrogen cycling, and secondary metabolites. Lichen genetics is nicely covered; genetic variation within individuals and populations is addressed. The last part of the book features an overview of lichen biogeography and systematics, and the role of lichens as indicators of air pollution and the pollutant effects on lichen biology.

As stated above, the entire book is very clearly written and useful to most mycologists; lichens seem a poorly understood group and I take this book off the shelf far more frequently than most mycological texts I own. The photographs are numerous and nicely support the text; all are in black and white and don’t really do the shots of lichens in nature justice. However the many electron micrographs are very clear and high resolution and make up for any other photo quibbles I might have.

— Review by Britt Bunyard
— Originally published in Fungi