• The Point Reyes Beach as viewed from the Point Reyes Headlands

    Point Reyes

    National Seashore California

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  • Bear Valley Visitor Center Lighting Retrofit:

    Due to safety concerns during the installation of new LED lights, sections of the Bear Valley Visitor Center's exhibit area may be closed through the end of July. More »

  • The Kenneth C. Patrick Visitor Center will be closed on Saturday, July 26.

    We are sorry for any inconvenience, but the Kenneth C. Patrick Visitor Center at Drakes Beach will be closed on Saturday, July 26. It will open at 10 am on Sunday, July 27.

Lichens

Healthy lichen anchored on wooden fencing

Healthy lichen anchored on wooden fencing

In 1867, the Swedish lichenologist Schwendener made a revolutionary discovery: lichens were not a separate group of plants- they were actually a partnership of two entirely different organisms: an algae and a fungus. In general, the algae contain photosynthetic pigments that allow the lichen to capture energy from the sun, and in some cases to fix nitrogen from the atmosphere into a mineral form usable by the organism. The fungus, in turn, supplies the lichen with a home, protects it from desiccation (drying out) and is able to translocate water and nutrients to support life processes.

Without a root system, lichens depend on absorbing necessary nutrients from the air. For this reason, lichens are particularly sensitive to air pollution, and have been used as bio-indicators in studies assessing air pollution.

Although there are nearly 1,000 species of lichen documented for California, we only have an incomplete inventory of the lichen flora at Point Reyes National Seashore. Since lichen are not included in any inventories of rare or endangered species, it is fortunate that many species are protected simply by their inclusion in a national seashore.

Point Reyes National Seashore Home to New Species of Lichen - October 14, 2008 news release

View Lichen Species of Point Reyes National Seashore list (21 KB PDF, Adobe® Acrobat Reader® required)

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Did You Know?

Elephant seals at the main colony at Point Reyes

Northern elephant seals (Mirounga angustirostris) began breeding at Point Reyes in 1981 after being absent for over 150 years. The population breeds at terrestrial haul out sites at Point Reyes Headland, one of only eleven mainland breeding areas for northern elephant seals in the world. More...