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Fidalgo Sphaerophorus on mossy rocks

  • 06 May 2024 7:21 PM
    Message # 13353236

    Hi all!

    I've been up to Fidalgo Island in Skagit County, WA a couple times recently and both times noticed Sphaerophorus growing on rock. I have found these once on Mount Erie and just recently near sea level by Pass Lake. I bet there are lots more like these. They're not epiphytic, but neither of these habitats are remotely alpine. They also don't look like North American photos of alpine S. globosus I've seen. What do we call these? I've noticed before that lichen that are normally epiphytic can be found more frequently on rock when near the ocean, is just this another case like that?

    First two photos are on the west side of Pass Lake: 48.4192N, 122.6426W. Last two photos are on Erie: 48.4549N, 122.6274W.

    4 files
    Last modified: 06 May 2024 7:55 PM | Justin Lange
  • 14 May 2024 7:47 PM
    Reply # 13356936 on 13353236
    Bruce McCune (Administrator)

    Justin, This is just a guess, but maybe they are S. tuckermannii. It would help to have closer views of the stalks. 

    Yes, it is supposed to be corticolous, but many species of corticolous lichens will occasionally transgress to rock.

    Of course a good test for this would be to do DNA sequencing. The existing taxonomy is based on very few sequenced specimens, so it is quite possible that the situation is more complex than we realize.

  • 20 May 2024 4:06 PM
    Reply # 13359409 on 13353236

    Thanks for the reply Bruce!! Agreed that they look a lot more like tuckermanii. I'd be interested how these end up with more DNA testing (maybe scared, I already have enough trouble with tuckermanii/venerabilis!). I'd be curious if photobiont identity is playing any role here as well.

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