Gold Cobblestone Lichen 2010

Mt Hoffman, Yosemite, August 2010

  • Pleopsidium flavum
  • Bright yellow with pale brownish pits in the center of segments

A symbiotic relationship of two living entities: photosynthetic green algae (cyanobacteria) and sheltering fungus. The fungus lives off of sunglight energy that is harvested by the algae and this combination allows for the two to survive in environments that neither could alone.

Lichen colonize bare rock faces and produce chemicals that slowly erode the surface. Over centuries, this process breaks rocks down into soil that can be used by plants. By measuring lichen size, scientists can determine the relative age of glacial moraines.

Lichen get nutrients by absorbing dust that falls on their surface and they have no way of excreting this material. This makes them very sensitive to air pollution and when exposed to high concentration of sulfer dioxide, they will die. Lichen diversity and abundance are being monitored to assess the impact of smog on Sierra ecosystems

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