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Although widely used, the technique remains controversial, in part because lichen biology is poorly understood. Croix Watershed Research Station, LLNL CAMS facility, UNAVCO, VECO, Wrangell Mountain Air, Wrangell Mountains Center, and Wrangell-St. All research described in this paper was done in compliance with the laws of the United States and the state of Alaska.We use size-frequency distributions of lichens growing on well-dated surfaces to fit demographic models for , two species commonly used for lichenometry. We show that both species suffer from substantial mortality of 2–3% per year, and grow slowest when young-trends that explain a long-standing contradiction between the literatures of lichenometry and lichen biology. Crustose lichens differ from the leprose lichen by having an upper cortex and algal cells that are located directly beneath the cortex.The thallus of a crustose lichen has a patchwork or crazy-paving appearance.