Protected species of the month - Menegazzia terebrata

In December, many people venture into nature to gather materials for creating eco-friendly holiday decorations. This time is particularly important to remind us of the crucial balance between holiday cheer and protecting the environment. Often, we are unaware of how fragile our surroundings are and how our careless actions can harm rare and endangered species. That's why we have chosen Menegazzia terebrata as this month's protected species. This lichen, when encountered in nature, should be left undisturbed and protected.

Thallus of Menegazzia terebrata is leaf-like, rosette-shaped, or irregular. Its upper surface is mostly greyish-green, sometimes darker in the middle, matte, occasionally slightly shiny, naked, with round or oval openings which give the lichen its Latvian name. Its core is white with a cavity inside. The underside is very wrinkled, black, lighter at the edges, with a visible black border.

In Latvia, the majority of this species' population is concentrated in the eastern part, with scattered occurrences in the northern, central, and Kurzeme regions. In recent years, the number of sightings has significantly increased, due to the growing expertise of nature experts in identifying and detecting this species.

Species distribution map in Latvia. Author: Jānis Ukass.

The species is mainly found in old, natural black alder forests with elevated and stable air humidity. The most negative impact on the species comes from forestry and drainage-induced changes in habitats.

If you spot the Menegazzia terebrata while in nature, report the observation to the Nature Conservation Agency or on the portal. We look forward to receiving news and photographs of species observations on our Facebook page too.

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