Stone Mountain 3/8/14

Saturday afternoon (after my Noonday Creek Trail walk), my family and I took a trip to hike up Stone Mountain. While sparse along the public part of the mountain due to excessive walking, this mountain features tiny patches of granite outcrop habitat. Along the Stone Mountain Granite trail, Loblolly Pines dominate and are joined by a small number of Blackjack Oaks, Shortleaf Pines and a granite outcrop specialty and endangered species, Georgia Oak. Much of the life of the granite outcrop likes on the granite and the sparse patches of thin soil. In this brutal habitat, where surface temperatures can reach over 130 degrees F in the summer, lichen and moss wage war for limited space. Lichen species are abundant and rock moss (Grimmia spp.) and haircap moss (Polytrichum spp.) are abundant. Small grasses also grow on the splotches of soil as well as Curlyleaf Yucca. Birds are scarce – the lone song of a Pine Warbler and a couple of teetering Turkey Vultures were the only Aves to be found. Finally, two White-tailed Deer were seen 15 feet into the forest.

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Evidence of the battle between lichen and moss

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Peppered Rock-shield – Xanthoparmelia conspersa

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A crustose yellow lichen meets a crustose light blue lichen

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A crustose orange lichen

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Curlyleaf Yucca – Yucca filamentosa

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Reindeer Lichen – Cladonia spp. or Cladina spp.

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Dead leaves of a Georgia Oak – Quercus georgiana

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