New species of lichen named after Barack Obama

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Washington, Apr 16 (ANI): President Barack Obama has received an unusual tribute from a UC Riverside researcher - he has named a new species of lichen after him.

Kerry Knudsen, the lichen curator in the UCR Herbarium, has discovered a new species of lichen - a plant-like growth that looks like moss or a dry leaf - and has named it after the president to show his appreciation for Obama's support of science and science education.

"I discovered the new species in 2007 while doing a survey for lichen diversity on Santa Rosa Island in California," said Knudsen.

"I named it Caloplaca obamae to show my appreciation for the president's support of science and science education," he added.

C. obamae grows on soil and almost became extinct during the days of cattle ranching that spanned nearly a hundred years on Santa Rosa Island.

"I made the final collections of C. obamae during the suspenseful final weeks of President Obama's campaign for the United States presidency, and this paper was written during the international jubilation over his election," Knudsen said.

"Indeed, the final draft was completed on the very day of President Obama's inauguration," he added.

Lichens, which grow slowly and live for many years, result from fungi and algae living together.

Knudsen says he's excited about the findings.

"A new lichen validates the value of the public support for preserving public lands as ecological sanctuaries," he said.

"C. obamae teaches us that possibly other species of lichens and plants unique to Santa Rosa Island may have disappeared, without ever being known to science, since sheep ranching began there in the 1850s," he added.

The findings are published in journal Opuscula Philolichenum. (ANI)

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