Cladonia wainioi Asah
Wainio's Reindeer Lichen
Basis for Listing
Cladonia pseudorangiformis is fairly uncommon but widely distributed in North America. It occurs from Alaska to Newfoundland and south to New Hampshire and the Lake Superior region. In Minnesota, this boreal species was found historically by B. Fink in 1901 in St. Louis County, and more recently in several northern tier counties. Paradoxically, when it is found, it is usually fairly abundant. The reason for its rarity is not understood. Cladonia pseudorangiformis was listed as a special concern species in Minnesota in 1984.
Cladonia pseudorangiformis is a fruticose (shrublike) lichen. Podetia (upright hollow stalks) are gray with thin, brownish tips. Podetia have frequent dichotomous branching, with a small opening in the axil between the branches. Podetia do not have any slits, and lack soredia (powdery granules of algae and fungus), isidia (small, fingerlike projections), and squamules. This species does not have cups on the podetia. For purposes of laboratory identification, the surface of podetia turns yellow when spot-tested with potassium (Hale 1979; Wetmore 1981). Cladonia pseudorangiformis contains green algae.
Cladonia pseudorangiformis has been found on soil, but in Minnesota this lichen grows on sunny rock outcrops and ledges in areas that are moist and cool, and probably have high humidity.
Biology / Life History
Cladonia pseudorangiformis reproduces strictly through the dispersal of fungal spores. Once transported, the spores must find the proper algal partner in a suitable environment in order to become established as a new thallus in that location.
Conservation / Management
Cladonia pseudorangiformis is very vulnerable to fire. As with other rare flora, overcollecting and loss of habitat to development could endanger local populations. Climate changes that reduce humidity in this species' habitat would threaten the survival of this lichen, as would any activities that disrupt the precise environmental conditions required by this sensitive species.
Conservation Efforts in Minnesota
Scientists are searching for this and other rare lichens in an attempt to identify and possibly preserve local populations.