Opinicon’s Own Lichen

Posted by Mark Conboy

A cliff-face lichen community on Snake Island, Lake Opinicon. Two clusters of Lecanora opiniconensis (A) on either side of some scattered rock-posy (Rhizoplaca subdiscrepans).

Among the least studied organisms at Queen’s University Biological Station are the lichens. That’s not to say that no one has bothered to look at them; in fact the discovery of a new species of lichen led to it being named after Lake Opinicon. Lecanora opiniconensis was first discovered and named by eminent lichenologist Irwin Brodo while he was visiting the station as a guest lecturer during a population ecology field course in the 1980’s. Brodo told me that when he first discovered this species on Snake Island (in Lake Opinicon) he thought it was an Ontario endemic. He has subsequently found it in the Adirondacks and northern Manitoba. Other workers have found it in the southwestern United States. It’s a small species with apothecia (fruiting bodies) that are only a few millimetres across. It could easily be missed among the colonies of the more abundant and superficially similar scattered rock-posy (Rhizoplaca subdiscrepans). Compared to R. subdiscrepans, the thallus of L. opiniconensis is darker green and the apothecia are non-pruniose. As far I know this lichen is the only organism that has been named after Lake Opinicon.

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