Journal archives for January 2023

January 08, 2023

Lichen identification resources

There are numerous great resources for identifying lichens, and users will need to consult these instead of relying on the iNaturalist suggested identifications. The iNaturalist "computer vision" is trained incorrectly for many taxa, so don't trust it.

Field Oriented Keys to the Florida Lichens revised April 2022, by Roger Rosentreter, Ann DeBolt & Laurel Kaminsky
Start here. This only includes Florida macrolichens and a few easily distinguished crustose genera.

Brodo, I. M., Sharnoff, S. D., & Sharnoff, S. (2001). Lichens of north America. Yale University Press.
An expensive but beautiful and well-illustrated book. Very helpful. It's one of my favorite books on any taxa.

Brodo, I. M. (2016). Keys to lichens of North America: revised and expanded. Yale University Press.
The keys in Brodo et al. (2001) are not comprehensive; many more species are included in the Brodo (2016) keys. It's not illustrated, so it helps to use it in conjunction with Brodo et al (2001) and the websites below.

Georgia Lichen Atlas by Malcolm Hodges & Sean Beeching
This includes many Florida species, is well-illustrated, and includes sections on similar species, natural history information, range maps, etc.

Lichens of Subtropical Florida, Seavy Guide
Includes photos of South Florida species, many of which are not illustrated anywhere else. 459 of the 550+ species on the Everglades National Park Lichen Project checklist are included.
Seavy also includes pages that describe how to identify common South Florida species.

Lichen Portal
Includes interactive mapping of herbarium specimens plus descriptions. Very detailed and includes all species. Some herbarium specimens may be incorrectly identified.

Ways of Enlichenment
Includes photos of many species

Lichens of North Carolina
Another good resource.

Detailed article on Trypetheliaceae
Aptroot, A., & Luecking, R. (2016). A revisionary synopsis of the Trypetheliaceae (Ascomycota: Trypetheliales). The Lichenologist, 48(6), 763-982.

Thanks to @knotwood for pointing out these additional resources:
The lichens of Fakahatchee Strand Preserve State Park, Florida
Lucking, R., Seavey, F., Common, R.S., Beeching, S.Q., Breuss, O., Buck, W.R., Crane, L., Hodges, M., Hodkinson, B.P., Lay, E. and Lendemer, J.C., 2011. The lichens of Fakahatchee Strand Preserve State Park, Florida: proceedings from the 18th tuckerman workshop. Bulletin of the Florida Museum of Natural History. 49 (4): 127-186., 49(4), pp.127-186.

Contains descriptions of cryptic species

A world key to the species of Anthracothecium and Pyrenula

Aptroot, A. (2012). A world key to the species of Anthracothecium and Pyrenula. The Lichenologist, 44(1), 5-53.

Posted on January 08, 2023 04:28 PM by stevecollins stevecollins | 0 comments | Leave a comment

Common iNat suggested identification problems

One of the most commonly identified lichens in Florida used to be Usnea hirta, which is a northern species. I worked through 400+ incorrect identifications, and most were Usnea strigosa or Ramalina.

Another commonly misidentified lichen is Common Greenshield Lichen (Flavoparmelia caperata). This species does not occur in Florida, yet there are currently over 500 observations identified as this in Florida. It's the fourth most common species identified in Florida on iNat! Many green lichens are identified by iNat CV as Flavoparmelia, which is common in regions outside of Florida.

Photo © Don Hunter, Banks Co., Ga., 22 Sept. 2017 from Georgia Lichen Atlas

Entry from Georgia Lichen Atlas
Entry from Lichen Portal which has a few mis-identified herbarium specimens from Florida.

Many of these are Parmotrema, which have wide lobes, apothecia, soredia, and/or isidia, and the edges are not attached or adnate against bark. Some with smaller lobes may be Parmeliopsis, Hypotrachyna, Myelochroa, Canoparmelia, or members of Physciaceae. Unfortunately most of the observations are poor photos taken at distance that cannot be identified to any genus let alone species.

Some similar taxa that occur in Florida:
Parmotrema tinctorum

Photo © Don Hunter, Berrien Co., Ga., 8 March 2014 from Georgia Lichen Atlas

Canoparmelia caroliniana

Photo © Don Hunter, Pike Co., Ga., 13 October 2015 from Georgia Lichen Atlas

Parmeliopsis subambigua

Photo © Don Hunter, Troup Co., Ga., 11 May 2014 from Georgia Lichen Atlas

Hypotrachyna pustulifera

Photo © Don Hunter, Berrien Co., Ga., 8 Mar. 2014 from Georgia Lichen Atlas

Physcia americana

Photo © Don Hunter, Tift Co., Ga., 9 Mar. 2014 from Georgia Lichen Atlas

Posted on January 08, 2023 06:25 PM by stevecollins stevecollins | 2 comments | Leave a comment

January 11, 2023

Species that do not occur in Florida / iNaturalist suggested species problem

The following species either do not occur in Florida, they are uncommon in Florida, or I'm unsure of their status. However, these species totaled over 1600 observations, which shows there is a serious problem with iNaturalist suggesting non-FL species and users selecting them. In some cases, the CV may be trained incorrectly.
() = number of FL observations in iNaturalist
Cladonia coniocraea - Common Powderhorn (139)
Flavoparmelia caperata - Common Greenshield Lichen (was 600, currently 241 after making an effort to sort these)
Flavopunctelia flaventior - Speckled Greenshield (48)
Flavopunctelia soredica - Powder-edge Speckled Greenshield (67)
Lecanora thysanophora - Mapledust Lichen (45)
Parmelia sulcata - Shield Lichen (52)
Phlyctis argena - Whitewash Lichen (64)
Ramalina farinacea - Farinose Cartilage Lichen (119)
Usnea florida - Florida Beard Lichen (12)
Usnea hirta - Bristly Beard Lichen (was 500+, now 0)

Posted on January 11, 2023 03:36 PM by stevecollins stevecollins | 7 comments | Leave a comment

January 21, 2023

2022 Seminole County, FL Big Year!

In 2022, I was invited by some friends to participate in a friendly iNaturalist competition -- who could see the most species of anything and everything within a single county throughout the year. I selected Seminole County, FL, my home county, which is located north of Orlando. At 309 square miles, it is the third smallest county in Florida and has no coastline, but thankfully there are some fantastic preserves and parks.

I made an effort to visit most of the parks at least once, though there are a few parks that I missed. OK - maybe more than a few. My friend @scottsimmons will be dismayed that I completely skipped his favorite spot, Little Big Econ State Forest. It wasn't intentional! Here is a map of all of my 2022 observations.

I ended up with 1,404 species for the year – birds, bugs, plants, lichens, everything. That is about 80% of my Seminole County life list (1,758 species) though only 35% of the total number of species recorded in Seminole County by all users (3,992 species). Those 1,404 species were out of a total of 3,541 observations uploaded to iNaturalist. I added 738 species to my county life list in 2022. Not too shabby. [Technically we were counting taxonomic leaves and not species in this competition. So if I was able to identify something to genus, and I didn't have any other observations of that genus, it still counts as 1. If I also had another observation within that genus that was identified to species, then the first observation at the genus level wouldn't count.]

There are a few species that I added via kayak, such as searching for aquatic plants on Wekiwa Springs or when I was looking for dragonflies among the lilypads at Prairie Lake. More on that in a future post. It always feels like an adventure when I pack my net on the kayak and camera in my lap and and then try not to dunk my camera. I haven't yet -- and swinging a net from a sitting position isn't easy!

Birds: 146 species

My Seminole County life list is 258 species, so yeah – I didn’t focus on local birds. However, I did manage to add five species to my County list: Cerulean and Blue-winged Warblers (Thanks, Lori!), Philadelphia Vireo (Thanks, Scott!), Hairy Woodpecker, and Cave Swallow! The swallow was a surprise – I was trying to photograph dragonflies flying over my yard, because by Nov 1 I still didn’t have photos of Phantom or Twilight Darners for the year. There was a fairly persistent Tree Swallow flight, and then there was one that wasn’t! We also had a couple hurricanes this year, so I was able to add a few coastal terns to my year list including Sooty. Another surprise was hearing a Clapper/King Rail calling over my house one evening in May.

Mammals: 9 species
Reptiles: 21 species

Highlights were Pygmy Rattlesnake, Rough Greensnake, and Brahminy Blindsnake. The blindsnake is a tiny, introduced snake that looks like a black worm or planarian. I’ve now found a couple in the yard.

Amphibians: 6 species
Fish: 6 species
Insects: 577 species

The not-so-secret weapon for finding biodiversity is attracting insects with a blacklight or UV light. I added a mercury vapor light (e.g. a heat lamp from a pet store) to my setup this year, and I found 188 species in the backyard. I usually waited until the boys went to bed to set it up, though they loved getting out of bed and joining me in their underpants to see what the lights attracted.

Odonata: 68 species.

This is a fraction of my county life list, 81 species, but I found a few good ones: Taper-tailed Darner (Gomphaeschna antilope), Dragonhunter (Hagenius brevistylus), and Blue-striped Spreadwing (Lestes tenuatus) [found by Scott Simmons]. Fifteen of those 68 species were observed in my suburban yard, including Florida Baskettail (Epitheca stella) and Fine-lined Emerald (Somatochlora filosa).

Butterflies: 49 species, including the locally rare Eastern Pygmy-Blue, Fulvous Hairstreak, and American Snout.
Robber Flies: 18 species
Arachnids: 30 species
Mollusks: 9 species
Plants: 457 species, including 5 orchids and 8 airplants (Tillandsia)
Lichens: 68 species

I started performing UV and KOH testing toward the end of the year. Chemical tests are necessary for identification in many cases. I expect lichens to feature prominently in next year's competition!

Other Fungi: 55 species
Protozoans: 3 species

How respectable is 1,404 species? I’m not sure, though it’s more species than most individual users have recorded from populated counties in Florida. I don’t know if anyone else has tried something like this before in Florida. I was competing with some friends in other states, and I didn't win the competition. So I guess I could have done better!

One of the great things about iNaturalist is that experts and other volunteers help each other along the way. A number of folks helped me with identification, especially plants which I'm still learning. Among the many folks who helped, @jayhorn, @florida_flora, @marykeim, @tadenham, and @simonsr35 helped me the most with plants, @coolcrittersyt and @brandonwoo with grasshoppers, and @nomolosx with leafhoppers and tree hoppers. It was a fun game – one that found me furiously scanning tree bark on December 31 looking for more species.

Some of my favorite Seminole County observations throughout the year are included with this post!

All species and observations can be viewed here

Posted on January 21, 2023 11:18 PM by stevecollins stevecollins | 66 observations | 5 comments | Leave a comment