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The joy of launching a new book!

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cover pic rgb In November 2015, Simon and Amanda Davey had the great joy of being able to attend the launch of their book The Lichens of Jersey at the Société Jersiaise. A book that had taken many years to come together, it was launched in style by the publishers with many of the attendees having been key players in the evolution of the project from ideas for a small booklet into the full-blown colour book that it was to become.

dsc_0245 anne hadenThe afternoon preceding the launch was spent with Anne Haden, who was one of the several driving forces behind the publication of the book. Clutching her copy in one hand, handlens in another, it was a joy to spend such quality time with her even in soggy, muddy November conditions. It was hugely warming to see the book ‘in action’ in the field and to introduce Anne to the many and several photographic models illustrated in the species section. This section was laid out on purpose to allow at least some comparison between similar species without having to flick through too many pages and it seemed to work helpfully!

Jersey is a wonderfully complex island with a variable geology and many different habitats. For this reason it manages to have a significant number of lichen species even considering the relatively small area and the count at the time of the book being put together was 546 species for an area just short of 120 square kilometres. This is an impressive score.

Aside from the beauty of the lichens on the island as a factor behind the book’s ‘look’, another key consideration was the significance of a well-known name in lichen research: Charles du Bois Larbalestier. Born in 1838 in St Aubin to a sea captain and his wife, Larbalestier was to become a significant source of type specimens of lichens named to science by the Finnish specialist William Nylander, based in his prime in Paris. Many of the lichens found in Jersey by Larbalestier form the type specimens and he added to this in the 1870s in Ireland by finding many more lichens then new to science. An elusive and intriguing character, he taught the wayward future Seigneur of Sark as well as many others on their way up to Cambridge. The book contains a chapter on the history of lichenology in Jersey and its relevance to European and world taxonomy.

At the launch there were a good number of people who had little if any awareness of lichens prior to the publication of the book. Some had become interested through the historic importance of Charles du Bois Larbalestier. Some had become interested because lichens really are very beautiful. Many were developing their interest because they now had a book that could guide them gently in a fascinating group that can seem quite intimidating. It is lovely to hear that Anne Haden has already been taking people out for lichen walks.

It was a joyful launch indeed!

The Lichens of Jersey was published by the Société Jersiaise in 2015 and is available for sale through Tilia Publishing UK for £15 plus postage and packing.

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  1. Anne Haden

    Hello Jo, If you are ever in Jersey you would be very welcome to come and join us on a lichen walk! Anne

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  2. Jo Lloyd

    Aha! Nowwww that makes sense!! Thank you!

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  3. Amanda Davey

    That is a good question... It can have answers on several levels, as there are in fact several sorts of 'type'. The simple answer is that a type specimen (or holotype) is the specimen from which the description of the species has been made and is usually dried and in a well known herbarium. This description used to have to have been made in Latin, but that rule has largely been relaxed now to widely used languages such as English, Spanish or German (I think). There are other sorts of types such as neotype, lectotype and several others that refer to different histories behind the naming. You may not be aware that names aren't as certain as we grow up believing and much work is done studying the first names given to different species. This is why knowing where the type specimens are is so important.

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  4. Jo Lloyd

    Hi Simon and Amanda, Well I would like to go on a lichen walk in Jersey with both book and learned guide! Nature is wonderful in itself. However an authoritative guide such as this really enhances a subject bringing a new focus, clarity... and I think happy awe at nature's talent. A question from an amateur: what is a "type specimen"?

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