The Transylvania Times -

Recreation – The Overlooked Threat To Rare Plants And Animals


February 5, 2018

Courtesy photo

Botanist Carolyn Wells searching for the rock gnome lichen and the mountain golden heather. Trampling from hiking boots is a serious issue for some of these plants and they are only found at high elevations.

More than 2,000 plants and animals around the world are on the federal threatened and endangered species list – from the great green macaw to the bowhead whale. Of all those, two are lichens – odd organisms resulting from the extremely close relationship between algae or bacteria and a fungus – creating a new life form different from its constituent elements. Of those two lichens, one is only found in the southern Appalachians – the rock gnome lichen.

The habitat requirements of the rock gnome lichen mean it's found in two seemingly very different places, on rocks along cool mounta...

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