Lichen growth and lichenometry

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  • Richard A. Armstrong

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Lichenometry is one of the most widely used methods available for dating the surface age of various substrata including rock surfaces, boulders, walls, and archaeological remains. It depends on the assumption that if the lag time before colonisation of a substratum by a lichen is known and lichen age can be estimated, then a minimum date can be obtained by measuring the diameter (or another property related to size) of the largest lichen at the site. Lichen age can be determined by variety of methods including calibrating lichen size against surfaces of known age (‘indirect lichenometry’), by constructing a growth rate-size curve from direct measurement of lichen growth (‘direct lichenometry’), using radio-carbon (RC) dating, and from lichen ‘growth rings’. This chapter describes: (1) lichen growth rates and longevity, (2) methods of estimating lichen age, (3) the methodology of lichenometry and (4) applications of lichenometry. Despite its limitations, lichenometry is likely to continue to play an important role in dating a variety of surfaces and also in providing data that contribute to the debate regarding global warming and climate change.


Publication date2015
Publication titleRecent advances in lichenology : modern methods and approaches in biomonitoring and bioprospection
EditorsDalip Kumar Upreti, Pradeep K. Divakar, Vertika Shukla, Rajesh Bajpal
Place of PublicationNew Delhi (IN)
Number of pages15
ISBN (Electronic)978-81-322-2181-4
ISBN (Print)978-81-322-21800-7
Original languageEnglish


  • lichen growth, Lichen growth rate-size curve, direct lichenometry, Indirect lichenometry, Growth rings

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