Mountain biker discovers rare lichen in UK first
A lichen has been found growing in Britain for the first time after being discovered by a mountain biker.
David Genney spotted it while on a trail in the Ben Wyvis National Nature Reserve in the Scottish highlands.
Mr Genny is a respected expert at Scottish Natural Heritage on the fungal growths.
And he knew related specimens were among those conservationists at Kew Royal Botanic Gardens in London had highlighted as rare or under-recorded.
The Club-wielding Crust Lichen, also known as Multiclavula corynoides, was discovered on the verge of a gravel forest road.
It occurs across Scandinavia, in Iceland and in northern North America, but this is the first record of the species in Britain.
Mr Genney said: "I was out with a couple of friends enjoying a day's mountain biking around Ben Wyvis.
"While I'm usually focused on the trail ahead and wide mountain views I also keep half an eye out for interesting plants and fungi, especially on the long, slow uphill sections.
"I suppose I was secretly hoping for an excuse for a rest so was delighted when I spotted something a little different out of the corner of my eye."
He said said he recognised it as the Kew Lost and Found Fungi project has been encouraging citizen scientists to look out for rare or under-recorded species.
Mr Genny added: "They had highlighted a related lichen as one of their target species so things like this were on my radar.
"It's always exciting to find something you've never seen but for it to be a species that has never been seen in Britain before made my day.
"The discovery fills a gap in our knowledge of the global distribution of this little fungus."