Sierra Nevada Fungi

With a species count that is likely in the thousands, fungi can be found growing in and on a multitude of substrates, including rock, soil, and live and dead trees. Some are involved in symbiotic relationships with other species. One example is mycorrhizae, an association between fungi and plant roots in which the fungus extends the plant root system, increasing water and nutrient absorption. In exchange, the plant provides the fungus with food synthesized in photosynthesis. Another example is lichen, an organism formed by the combination of fungi and either photosynthetic green algae or cyanobacteria. The photosynthetic alga or cyanobacterium lives inside the fungus and provides it with food. In return, the fungus encloses its partner, providing shade and protection from desiccation. Lichen commonly grow on trees and bare rock. One common species, wolf lichen (Letharia vulpina), is a bright yellow-green fruticose lichen that grows on conifers and resembles a scrubby carpet of moss. Wolf lichen received its name because it was once used to poison wolves and foxes. Today, lichens are studied as biological indicators of air quality. Lichen communities normally vary little from season to season, but community composition will change according to air pollution levels. This is because certain species are more sensitive to pollution than others.

COVID-19 and the SNRS

Updated 4/20/2020

The following represents current guidance for the UC Merced Natural Reserve System. We reserve the right to cancel any reservation to protect the health and safety of visitors and staff, and to revise policies in the event of specific campus, state, NRS, NPS, or CDC guidance.

Yosemite Field Station: 

  • All visits are cancelled through the end of April, 2020.
  • In April, and pending resolution of the statewide "shelter-in-place" order issued by Governor Newsom, we anticipate allowing only visits that support essential research (i.e., place-based scholarly activities and programs that cannot reasonably be conducted elsewhere or rescheduled for a later date). Any essential research visitor groups must be 10 or fewer people. Approval is subject to the availability of housing that can allow for appropriate social distancing while staying at the field station.
  • Processing of all *new* reservations for May through August 2020 is on hold, as we develop our plans for allowing future use of the field station. We will issue updated guidance for May and beyond as the situation evolves.

Sequoia Field Station:  The field station remains closed for the winter, but re-opening may be impacted by COVID-19.

Any queries about SNRS reservations can be directed to Breezy Jackson,, (209) 628-5758.