Lichens in New Zealand - Observation of the Week, 11/24/18

This group of Placopsis lichens, seen in New Zealand by @linda_johnson, is our Observation of the Week!

Since she joined the Royal Forest & Bird Protection Society of New Zealand, Inc. (Forest & Bird  for short) a dozen years ago, Linda Johnson says “My interest and knowledge [in nature] has grown a lot.” She’s a coordinator for the Kiwi Conservation Club, a junior section of Forest & Bird, and “preparing nature-based activities for the KCC children has been a significant contributor to my increased knowledge about nature.” She also take part in pest control initiatives and restoration work.

Linda recently spent five days and four nights hiking The Old Ghost Road (OGR), an abandoned mining road in New Zealand’s Kahurangi National Park, and recounts

Whenever I'm out hiking I'm taking notice of what is around me and regularly stopping to get a better look around without falling over. The first day of the OGR was in beautiful beech forest and there was an abundance of bird life, especially NZ robins. On the second day we got up above the tree line and I was seeing plants I don't usually have an opportunity to see. The day was sunny and a section of the track had a rocky bank with grass and other low growing vegetation on it. There were some big boulders not covered by vegetation. The colours and shapes of the lichen on the rocks were eye catching so I stopped to take a photo.

The lichens she photographed are in the genus Placopsis, which are often referred to as “bullseye lichen” due to the their appearance. A crustose lichen, they grow tightly to their substrate (in this case a rock) and their more conspicuous structures are often grouped toward the center, with the thallus extending outward. Lichens can reproduce both sexually and asexually, and it looks like sexual reproductive structures called apothecia are the dark red dots fringed by lighter tissue. I’m not sure what the striking structures in the middle are - if you know, write in the comments!

Linda (above, on the OGR), mainly uses iNat for ID help and to make sure there are records for particular places. “For instance, I uploaded photos from my visits to the Chatham Islands (800km east of New Zealand), and subsequently was told I was the first person to submit data from there,” she says. “I actually started taking more photos on the OGR with iNaturalist in mind after taking the lichen photo.”

- by Tony Iwane

- Lichens have long been thought to be a symbiosis between a fungus and algae or cyanobactera, but recently a third partner has been found.

- Do lichens age? A Harvard mycologist has been studying lichens in a cemetery in an attempt to answer that question.

Posted by tiwane tiwane, November 24, 2018 20:38



Those are divine!!

No link in the second article - is this it?
More on the yeasts in Lichens ... (DOI: 10.1126/science.aaf8287)

Posted by tonyrebelo 8 months ago (Flag)

Linda, this article might provide some answers if someone at Forest & Bird has the required subscription:

The lichen genera Aspiciliopsis, and Placopsis (Trapeliales: Trapeliaceae: Ascomycota) in New Zealand


Aspiciliopsis macrophthalma and 38 species of Placopsis are recognized in the New Zealand mycobiota. Placopsis campbelliana, and P. erosa are newly described. A key to species is given, together with details of synonymy and typification, descriptions of all taxa, their chemistry, distribution, ecology and biogeographical affinities. Lichenicolous fungi parasitising species of Placopsis are recorded. The importance of Placopsis as a fast-growing and active nitrogen-fixer in natural ecosystems is noted as well as the role of certain species in processes of soil consolidation and natural environmental repair processes. The utility of some species for lichenometric studies in recently deglaciated environments of the Southern Hemisphere is also noted.

Posted by nancyasquith 8 months ago (Flag)

@tonyrebelo whoops, thanks for catching that. I've added a link to the original NY Times article that is linked to from the Smithsonian one.

Posted by tiwane 8 months ago (Flag)

That top lichen picture is amazing! Great observation, how many species are even in that picture?

Posted by zabbey 8 months ago (Flag)

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