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    Grand Canyon

    National Park Arizona

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Lichens

Lichen communities living on rock

Lichen communities living on rock.

Grand Canyon National Park

There is a great deal of exposed rock in and around the Grand Canyon. Much of of that rock is covered by lichens.

A lichen is what one could call a simple biological “community” because it is made up of at least two mutually-dependent organisms. In a lichen, some type of fungi is found along with green algae and /or cyanobacteria.

 

A lichen community is therefore stronger than either fungus or algae alone. Here's how they help each other out; the green algae uses the photosynthesis process to produce food for the fungus, while the fungus protects the algae from the elements and extracts nutrients from the rocks and soil.

Lichens usually colonize north-facing surfaces since exposure to the sun's heat and radiation is less on north-facing rocks and slopes. Lichens may also grow on healthy, mature cryptobiotic soil crust, and occasionally on live or dead plant material. Many species of lichen are found within Grand Canyon National Park.

Lichens are well adapted to arid climates since they can produce food at any temperature above freezing. Another thing that makes lichens good desert survivors is that they can soak up more than their weight in water. Fungi and green algae are non-vasular plants (without roots and stems) so they can directly soak up dew and rain into their cells.

 

Related Information

Colorado River Plant List (280kb Excel Worksheet)

Grand Canyon Exotic Plants List - updated 2012 02 (80kb PDF File)

Grand Canyon Exotic Plant Species - Vegetation Management Bulletin (117kb PDF File)

Grand Canyon Vascular Plant List (211kb Excel Worksheet)

Grand Canyon Non-Vascular Plants (330.7kb PDF File)

Grand Canyon Potentially Invasive Weed List (17.8kb PDF File)

Grand Canyon Threatened & Endangered Species List (52.5kb PDF File)

Guide to the Special Status Plants of Grand Canyon
Part One (1.44MB PDF File)
Part Two (2.05MB PDF File)
Part Three (1.57MB PDF File)

List of Special Status Plants of Grand Canyon (30kb Excel Worksheet)


Canyon Sketches Vol 16 - January 2010
Grand Canyon National Park takes steps to recover the endangered sentry milk-vetch.
The park took significant actions in 2009 to recovery the endangered sentry milk-vetch, including constructing a passive solar greenhouse to house an ex situ population and conducting seed germination trials.

Canyon Sketches Vol 15 - November 2009

Invasive Plant Control in Tuweep
In March 2009, Grand Canyon National Park teamed up with the Coconino Rural Environmental Corps (CREC) to eradicate invasive plants in the Tuweep District.

Canyon Sketches Vol 06 - October 2008
Park Vegetation Crews Use Multiple Techniques to Restore Native Vegetation Along Hermit Road
Hermit Road re-opened in November 2008 after a nine-month rehabilitation. Restoration of native vegetation along Hermit Road is one of the largest plant restoration and rehabilitation efforts ever undertaken at Grand Canyon National Park. The multi-faceted project includes a variety of restoration techniques and incorporates substantial contributions by park volunteers and interns.

Canyon Sketches Vol 05 - August 2008
Park Biologists Conserve Rare Plant
Plant biologists identified several populations of Tusayan flameflower (Phemeranthus validulus) in areas that will be impacted by the construction of parking lots at Canyon View Information Plaza. In order to conserve this rare Grand Canyon species, they recently salvaged plants from construction zones and transplanted them in suitable habitat nearby.

Canyon Sketches Vol 02 - April 2008
Volunteers Help Control Invasive Plants
Invasive plants such as Sahara mustard pose a serious ecological threat to Grand Canyon. Volunteers have made important contributions towards controlling this aggressive invader over the last few years. Volunteer trips with Science and Resource Management's vegetation program are fun and educational and give people who love Grand Canyon the opportunity to help preserve park resources.

Visit the Canyon Sketches eMagazine Home Page
Canyon Sketches are short, timely and newsworthy updates about Grand Canyon's natural, cultural and recreational resources. They highlight the ongoing work that Grand Canyon's Science and Resource Management staff does to monitor, inventory, restore, and rehabilitate park resources. The Canyon Sketches eMagazine is designed to provide specific information on resource challenges and Science and Resource Management activities.

Did You Know?

WHITEWATER RAFTING

There are different river trip opportunities through Grand Canyon National Park, including professionally guided raft trips, available to the public and often reserved a year or two in advance; and self-guided, or "private" river trips, made available to the public through a weighted lottery. More...