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UW’s WYNDD Adds Lichens to Online List of Wyoming Flora, Fauna

January 13, 2021
lichen
At least eight species of lichens can be seen in this photo taken at the Hutton Lake National Wildlife Refuge in southern Albany County. Wyoming’s 860 lichen species are listed individually in an online tool by the Wyoming Natural Diversity Database at UW. (Dorothy Tuthill Photo)

A “census” of Wyoming’s lichens is now online and accessible through the species list tool of the Wyoming Natural Diversity Database (WYNDD) at the University of Wyoming.

“Wyoming has a bounty of 860 lichen species, a workforce of soil-binding, rock-hugging and tree-trimming organisms,” says Bonnie Heidel, WYNDD’s lead botanist. “The addition of lichens to the species list tool is a major stride in representing Wyoming’s flora and fauna.”

The species list tool, which went live in late 2020, may be found at https://wyndd.org/species_list/.

The Wyoming lichens list is based on the 2013 “Preliminary Checklist of Lichens Reported from Wyoming,” written by UW Biodiversity Institute Associate Director Dorothy Tuthill, plus additional taxa represented in North American herbaria and accessed through the Consortium of North American Lichen Herbaria online search portal.

Lichens are pervasive across Wyoming. From the driest basins to the Rocky Mountain peaks, lichens inhabit the surfaces of soils, rocks and wood. They play significant roles in biogeochemical cycling, weathering and soil stabilization, and they contribute to above-ground productive biomass and biodiversity, especially in dry and cold climates. Lichens serve as an important or occasional source of forage for several Wyoming game animals -- including pronghorn, moose, elk and bighorn sheep -- nongame mammals and birds, and a variety of invertebrates.

The posting of the state flora and fauna is a new feature of the WYNDD homepage.

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