January 31, 2012
Plantsman Henry Kock remembered in new species name
A unique conservation fundraiser, the "New Species Conservation Auction," has resulted in renowned Victoria artist Anne Hansen, winning the naming rights to a newly discovered species of lichen from BC's inland rainforest, which she plans to name in honour of her late husband. Proceeds from the auction will go to the Ancient Forest Alliance, a new non-profit organization working to protect BC's old-growth forests and forestry jobs.

The newly named Bryoria kockiana
In June, Trevor Goward, curator of lichens at the Beaty Biodiversity Museum at the University of British Columbia, loaned a new species of lichen he discovered, a Bryoria or "horsehair" lichen, as a fundraiser for the Ancient Forest Alliance.

According to scientific protocol, the right to give a new species its scientific name goes to the person who scientifically describes it. However, the online auction has earned the highest bidder, Anne Hansen, the right to name the new lichen species. The scientific species name could last centuries or millenia, enshrined in the scientific nomenclature as a legacy for environmentally-concerned individuals long after they have passed away.

The new lichen's scientific name will be Bryoria kockiana, as Hansen has decided to name the species after her late husband, Henry Kock, horticulturist and author. Kock, who passed away in 2005, was the public face of the Arboretum at the University of Guelph for 20 years and author of Growing Trees from Seed.

Hansen stated, "Henry was a tireless champion of biodiversity and inconspicuous species like toads, lichens and sedges. Organic gardening became his life's work after an unfortunate early vocational exposure to pesticides. Many native gardens throughout Ontario owe their existence to Henry's classes at the Arboretum and his travelling presentations to nature clubs. His own garden, which he transformed from lawn to forest, was dubbed the Hotel of the Trees...I feel like I got a bargain! Many people go into debt in December, for toys and gadgets that will soon be obsolete. Lichens have been around since ancient biological times. If we do something fast about climate change, lichens will be here far into the future. Naming a species after a beloved forest defender is my idea of a fabulous solstice celebration. I'm not the only one who's noticed that the lichen looks like Henry's beard™

Conservationists are hoping that this first trial run of "taxonomic tithing" in Canada will inspire similar taxonomic tithing initiatives for conservation organizations working to protect diverse ecosystems and endangered species. "Taxonomic tithing" is a term coined by Goward whereby a biological researcher who describes a new species donates its naming rights for conservation purposes