We are lichen the leaderboard!

Together we have observed close to 700 species of plants, fungi, and lichen! While roughly 95% of the organisms we have observed are plants, the other 6% is comprised of a variety of fungi and lichen. Why is there such a disparity in plant versus fungi and lichen observations?

It may be because our eyes are first drawn to showy blooms and charismatic plant specimens before the small mushroom on a decaying log or the flat patch of lichen on some tree bark. Along with the latter often being invisible to the naked eye, many of us are unfamiliar with fungi and lichen. Fungi are microorganisms that are everywhere, like mushrooms, mold, and yeast. Lichen are a combination of fungi, cyanobacteria, and algae living in a mutualistic relationship. Even scientists are mystified by lichen and fungi. There are around 120,000 known species in the Fungi Kingdom, but recent findings lead scientists to believe there may be closer to 2.2 to 3.8 million species! To put that into perspective, there are about 1 million species in the Animal Kingdom, and around 390,000 known species in the Plant Kingdom.

Despite all of this, one user has found quite a variety of fungi and lichen and has taken the overall top rankings on our Project leaderboard this week! Congratulations to user taylorlevit for submitting the most observations and most observed species this week. One fungal find by this user may look familiar to you due to its large home range. If you look at the iNaturalist distribution map for mica cap (Coprinellus micaceus), you might just find that it has been observed near you! We encourage you to spend some time this weekend looking for some often-overlooked fungi. You might find your own mica cap or some fungi and lichen that you passed before.

Posted by merrherr merrherr, May 14, 2020 14:59

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