Plants and Animals

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From Missouri Conservationist: Feb 2009

Species of Concern

Missouri Cave Lichen

cave lichen

  • Common Name: Missouri Cave Lichen
  • Scientific Name: Coenogonium missouriense
  • Range: Onyx Cave
  • Classification: Possibly extinct
  • To learn more about endangered species: explore the links listed below.

Endangered-species conservation isn’t all about eagles and orchids. Some of the rarest living things are those least likely to attract attention. That is the case with the Missouri cave lichen. Lichens are symbiotic associations where fungi give algae a place to live, and algae provide nourishment to the fungus through photosynthesis. The Missouri cave lichen has only been found in one place on earth, Onyx Cave in Pulaski County. The tiny communities lived in the twilight zone at the back of the cave’s mouth. Clinging tightly to the dolomite rock, they formed 1- to 2-mm mats resembling cobblestones. Several microscopic plants and animals made their homes in the pale green patchwork. In 1990, the cave was turned into a tourist attraction. Resulting changes in light and air flow might have killed the lichens, which have not been observed since. Lichenologists still hope to rediscover the species at Onyx Cave or another location.

“Gobbleteers” Needed

Turkey hunters can kill two birds with one stone.

Turkey hunters can scout for the spring hunting season and advance scientific knowledge by joining the Conservation Department’s “Gobbleteer” study. Volunteers count gobbles and gobbling birds for 20 minutes twice a week from March 15 to May 15. They choose their own listening locations. The study aims to learn when gobbling peaks. With this information, biologists will be better able to set turkey season to coincide with the period when gobblers are most receptive to calling. To sign up as a volunteer or to find more information, visit online.

Spring’s Approach

These tiny frogs don’t make a peep until spring is near.

The northern spring peeper (Pseudacris crucifer crucifer) is springtime’s opening act. Males usher in the season with their upbeat peeps, starting as early as late February in extreme southern Missouri. Their cheery chorus reaches the state’s northern region by the middle of March. Why do these tiny creatures awaken so early and in such good moods? Maybe it is a sugar high. High concentrations of glucose in their blood allow spring peepers to survive sub-freezing winter weather unharmed. In spite of their amazing abilities, frogs are among the most-endangered groups in the world. Nearly one-third of all known species are in decline. You can download Missouri frog songs free online. For more information about factors contributing to amphibian decline, explore the links listed below.

This Issue's Staff

Editor In Chief - Ara Clark
Managing Editor - Nichole LeClair
Art Director - Cliff White
Writer/Editor - Tom Cwynar
Staff Writer - Bonnie Chasteen
Staff Writer - Jim Low
Photographer - Noppadol Paothong
Photographer - David Stonner
Designer - Stephanie Thurber
Artist - Dave Besenger
Artist - Mark Raithel
Circulation - Laura Scheuler