Wolf Creek National Fish Hatchery’s March workshop topic was Lichen and Air Quality. Participants enjoyed a presentation by Roberta Burnes from the Division for Air Quality, detailing the complex and mysterious relationship between algae and fungi that produce lichen, and their role as a bioindicator for air quality. Following a brief introduction of lichen morphology, significance, and classifications, attendees were led on walk to the Nature trail where several lichen samples were collected for further observation back in the classroom.
Equipped with microscopes, hand lenses, and magnifying glasses, it was easy to see the fruiting structures and anatomy of certain lichen that isn’t visible to the naked eye. While observing different characteristics of the samples, the amateur lichenologists were pleasantly surprised to find some unexpected microscopic hitch hikers hiding in the samples including nematodes and mites.
By the end of the workshop, participants were able to identify the three different kinds of lichen, infer whether an area had high or low air pollution based off of lichen presence, and the basics of lichen morphology.