Lichen on seashore rocks

Lichens on Beach Stones at Waulkmill

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The black and white lichens colonising beach rocks and stones at Waulkmill Bay in Mainland, Orkney, conceal the colourful red and yellow sandstone that they cover. The lichen species present have different habitat requirements so that they are zoned into a higher band of lighter ones that have a greater tolerance of exposure, and a lower band of darker coloured lichens preferring more wetting.

8 Replies to “Lichens on Beach Stones at Waulkmill”

  1. Yes, there is great specificity to their location. They are very picky about where they live. Each zone is defined. The pictures show species at the junction of the littoral fringe of the upper littoral zone, which is only occasionally submerged by the tide but is still subject to heavy spray and waves, and the supralittoral zone where rocks are rarely submerged.

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  2. Yes, lichens are indicators of cleaner air. I think the long furry lichen must be one of the Ramelina species which live in the uppermost part of the supralittoral zone which is known as the xeric zone. This area experiences only slight spray from the waves. Bushy lichens like Ramelina need really clean air.

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  3. I have noticed the same thing with lichens in the woods around us. The same kinds (as they look to me, not an expert, of course!) favor the same kinds of locations. The ones on trees do not look like the ones on stone, or nearer to water. I may be off on this, but I’ve been noticing lichens recently, I guess because it is winter and I am not distracted by leaves, grasses, etc.

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  4. Lichens do seem more evident in winter when other foliage and flowers are not around to distract the eye. I have identification keys for the many lichens that occur in Britain but I find it impossible to be confident about naming what I find because there are so many types – even though the keys describe the type of habitat that each species prefers. šŸ˜Š

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  5. I don’t know anything about lichens unless they are markedly different from each other, but it is interesting to me that there are so many kinds and so specific. I will be paying closer attention when I am out, sort of a mini treasure hunt just to observe them. And, they are so beautiful, I think.

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